MS Amsterdam receives clearance to dock in Durban
Durban - The MS Amsterdam passenger vessel is expected to dock in the Port of Durban on Thursday after receiving a clean bill of health from the Port Health unit of the Department of Health and security clearance from authorities, including the South African Maritime Safety Authority, Department of Transport and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) at the Port of Durban.
MS Amsterdam arrived outside the Port of Durban on Sunday to refuel and restock provisions. There are no passengers, only 558 crew members, including five South Africans.
Prior to arrival, the vessel’s Master had reported there were persons onboard showing signs of flu-like illness.
"A doctor from Port Health boarded the ship at anchorage on Sunday to take swabs from symptomatic individuals and direct contacts. Results were received from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases on Wednesday confirming all tests were negative," TNPA said.
Five South African crew members will disembark from the liner, along with two other crew members who are ill although not with Covid-19.
TNPA said the MS Amsterdam was the last cruise vessel with a scheduled call to the Port of Durban this season.
"The ship had started a four-month global tour at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 4 January. Due to Covid-19 the cruise was ended prematurely in Fremantle, Australia on 22 March and the ship is now on its return to Fort Lauderdale.
"It is standard procedure for the Department of Health’s Port Health unit to be required to grant free pratique – checking and confirming a clean bill of health for all onboard – before any vessel is allowed to dock. Covid-19 protocols in the ports include the need for all foreign vessels entering the ports to receive free pratique and for details of the last 10 ports of call to be recorded," TNPA explained.
Flu-like symptoms reported by vessel masters are being investigated and tested accordingly to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
"So far, the cruise vessels calling locally that have had confirmed Covid-19 cases have been the MSC Orchestra cruises of February 26 to March 2, March 13 - 16, March 16 - 20 with four passengers in total testing positive and contact tracing now underway," TNPA said.
TNPA has been working closely with the Department of Transport, South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the Department of Health to manage requests from cruise liners after new Regulations were promulgated by the Minister of Transport on March 18 to guard against potential transmission.
"These Regulations essentially prohibit cruise liner calls, any crew changes, any disembarkations apart from returning South African citizens or permanent residents, and any embarkations unless they are for departing foreign nationals. However, all parties have worked together to manage individual vessels on a case by case basis," TNPA said.