MSC Orchestra 
Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)
MSC Orchestra Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)

MSC dismisses claims that patient aboard cruiseliner tested positive for Covid-19

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Mar 26, 2020

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Durban - The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has yet to confirm if a passenger, who went on a cruise on the MSC Orchestra earlier this month, had tested positive for Covid-19. However MSC Cruises has dismissed claims that it had knowledge of any passengers being infected.

Spokesperson Ross Volk said the only information it had was what had been published in the Newcastle Advertiser.

According to the community newspaper, a female passenger had tested positive for Covid-19 at a private laboratory.

Volk said that no passenger who had cruised with the MSC Orchestra more than two weeks ago had contacted them to disclose their Covid-19 status.

“At this point, there is no confirmation from the NICD. Once we get a confirmation, we will notify all passengers and crew who cruised on the weekend of March 13.

Volk referred The Mercury to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa), which released a statement on Wednesday.

“Samsa is also aware of media reports that one passenger from the MSC Orchestra tested positive for Covid-19.

“We wish to point out that at this moment we are unable to confirm the authenticity of this claim,” the statement read.

It said for the recent MSC Orchestra cruise that arrived on March 20, the disembarkation process followed strict protocols as issued by the Department of Health.

The passengers were disembarked in batches of 100, and each passenger went through a screening test, it said.

“It is also important to note that for the duration of the cruise, Port Health authorities requested and received from the vessel, eight hourly medical reports from the doctor on board the vessel, and all the passengers were requested to report on their health status.

“This information was considered when the vessel arrived in port, and although there was no report of any ill passengers on board, the screening was still conducted as an additional measure,” Samsa’s statement read.

“We wish to caution all South Africans to refrain from distributing false information and refrain from any behaviour that will not assist in the fight against this pandemic,” Samsa said.

When asked last night if the same disembarkation process was followed for the March 13 cruise, a Samsa spokesperson said he would need to check with the relevant officials.

The spokesperson for the NICD, Sinenhlanhla Jimoh, said the relevant authorities would alert MSC to the necessary steps that need to be taken, “once a positive result is verified by the NICD”.

By Wednesday, there was no indication whether the NICD had found the woman to be positive with the Covid-19 virus.

The Mercury

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