Those in charge of the cruise liner, MSC Orchestra,  insisted on embarking on a five-day cruise to Mozambique on Monday, knowing that President Cyril Ramaphosa had already declared the virus a national disaster and had imposed a travel ban.
Those in charge of the cruise liner, MSC Orchestra, insisted on embarking on a five-day cruise to Mozambique on Monday, knowing that President Cyril Ramaphosa had already declared the virus a national disaster and had imposed a travel ban.

The sea cruise that went viral

By Dennis Pather Time of article published Mar 22, 2020

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As I write this column at home while socially distancing myself from people, I can feel my temperature rising.

Not from any symptom associated with the dreaded coronavirus but from anger at the selfishness and insensitivity displayed by so many people during what is the most serious emergency our country has faced in decades.

Although the majority of South Africans are taking Covid-19 seriously, there are still pockets of demented denialists and “don’t-care-a-damns” throwing caution to the wind and putting themselves and the lives of thousands of others at risk.

Anyone who, by now, hasn’t come to realise the deadly seriousness of the coronavirus threat, needs their head read.

Take, for example, the public outrage over the cavalier-like attitude of those in charge of the cruise liner, MSC Orchestra, who insisted on embarking on a five-day cruise to Mozambique on Monday, knowing that President Cyril Ramaphosa had already declared the virus a national disaster and had imposed a travel ban in an effort to contain the spread.

Those in charge knew that by the time the ship returned to Durban, the new travel ban would already be in full force.

One has to ask what was the rationale behind their decision to proceed with the cruise. Was it because they feared losing valuable revenue if they called off the trip? Was it because of pressure from the majority of the 2 800 cruise passengers? Was sufficient attention given to the health and safety of the passengers and crew members and the possibility of the virus spreading to local communities on their return?

As one public health medical specialist warned: “If they come back and anyone carrying the virus is not properly screened, they would take that virus into their communities, and it would just spread from there.”

One also has to question the blasé attitude of the passengers who proceeded with the cruise when they could have insisted the cruise organisers issue them with vouchers for use at some later, and safer, date.

I suppose their attitude was “I’ve always dreamt of going on a cruise and I paid good money for this experience. So, virus or no virus, I am going”.

Another group that makes my blood boil are the selfish hoarders who invade retail stores and fill up their shopping trolleys like there is no tomorrow.

It breaks my heart to hear about pensioners complaining about desperately searching for a single toilet roll or bar of soap only to find the shelves are bare.

And what about those irresponsible patients who flee from hospital to avoid undergoing tests to identify their status, putting thousands of others at risk?

We can only survive this deadly threat by realising we’re all in this together.

Whether in your community, nationally or even globally, this is the time for ubuntu, summed up by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in this way: “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.”

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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