Police scan passengers, but no quarantine, as MSC Orchestra docks in Durban

DURBAN – Luxury shipping liner MSC Cruises and the South African government will be holding discussions about the departure of cruise liner MSC Orchestra from the port of Durban this week. 

The vessel left Durban on Monday – less than 24 hours after President Cyril Ramapahosa declared a national state of disaster with strict measures to address the coronavirus pandemic – which included travel regulations to contain the spread of the disease. 

The vessel arrived back in Durban port in the early hours of Friday morning, with all passengers having disembarked by lunchtime. Over 900 crew are currently still disembarking from the vessel. 

After the vessel’s departure on Monday, a row erupted on social media with users calling on MSC Cruises to adhere to the regulations. 

In response to questions from the media over the issue at a press briefing held a short while ago, SA Maritime Safety Authority Acting CEO, Sobantu Tilayi said that the matter of the vessel leaving port on Monday would be "part of discussions between MSC and the government".

While there was a question mark hanging over whether the MSC Orchestra would be quarantined once it docked in Durban on Friday morning, Tilayi said the MSC Orchestra, along with five other vessels was already en route to, or berthed in, a South African port prior to the publication of these regulations. 

On Friday, MSC Cruises, Bennie Van Dyk said "all passengers and crew are in good health", with no passenger reporting to the medical centre on board with any flu like symptoms during the five days the MSC Orchestra was at sea this week. 

He added there were no foreign nationals on board who had travelled from high risk areas in the last 14 days. 

The vessel’s port of call stop for Pomene in Mozambique was cancelled. 

Independent on Saturday

NSMSC3 - Police scan passengers, but no quarantine, as MSC Orchestra docks in Durban

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