MSC CRUISES SOUTH AFRICA Statement

MSC ORCHESTRA

13 March-4 April 2020

 

The world is facing an unprecedented time right now. Since the rapid global spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus everyone has been called upon to take appropriate measures to contain the virus.

There have been some questions asked whether MSC Cruises South Africa had permission for its ship MSC Orchestra to set sail on 16 March from Durban.

 

MSC Cruises South Africa had ALL of the necessary, official and lawful maritime authorizations.

 

Those permissions were granted by the Department of Health, the South African Police Services and the Immigration Services.

 

From the South African Government, both Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize have acknowledged that MSC Cruises South Africa fully adhered to and obtained all the required necessary and lawful permissions.

 

More broadly, and in line with efforts to curb the spread of the virus, since January 2020 MSC Cruises South Africa imposed strict preventative health measures for the safety and wellbeing of its passengers and crew. These included:

 

  • Screening of all passengers and crew, both in terms of their health and travel history.
  • Anyone who failed a pre-embarkation test was denied boarding on any MSC Cruises ship.
  • All passengers and crew were thermally screened prior to boarding a ship.
  • Deep cleaning and sanitation measures on-board every ship at the start, during and at the end of each cruise.
  • As new regulations were put in place in South Africa (on 18 March 2020) MSC Cruises South Africa followed the updated guidelines around social distancing to ensure that the correct disembarkation process was followed and complied with under the guidance of the Department of Transport – i.e. not more than 100 passengers could disembark at a time.

 

 

MSC ORCHESTRA WAS DEDICATED IN THE WINTER 2019/20 SEASON (NOVEMBER TO APRIL) FOR CRUISES FROM DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

OVERVIEW

 

MSC Orchestra was dedicated in the winter 2019/20 season (November to April) for cruises from Durban, South Africa.

 

The overwhelming majority of passengers who sailed on MSC Orchestra between November and 20 March 2020 were South African residents.

 

All crew on board MSC Orchestra were either South African or have been in South Africa since November 2019.

 

MSC Cruises South Africa on 17 March announced that it would cancel all remaining cruises for the 2020 season, to strengthen and complement the effectiveness of measures put in place by the South African government to contain the further spread of Covid-19.

 

MSC Cruises on the same day, in line with many other industries including the hospitality and travel sectors, temporarily halted its global operation. 

 

13 AND 16 MARCH CRUISES

 

For both cruises with departures on the 13th and the 16th March, MSC Cruises South Africa received authorisations from the relevant authorities (Port Health, South African Police Services, Immigration Services) that its ship, MSC Orchestra, was allowed to sail from Durban.

 

The Company was recently informed of four separate cases of passengers who had tested positive for Covid-19 several days after having disembarked from the ship.

 

  1. MSC Cruises South Africa was informed on 27 March that a female passenger from Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal who was on the cruise that departed Durban on 13 March, Cruise 1, had tested positive five days after disembarking. MSC Cruises South Africa was in direct contact with her during the week of 30 March and thankfully she has fully recovered and is in good health.

  2. Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on 31 March hosted a press briefing during which he announced a second case of a male passenger from the Free State province who had travelled on board MSC Orchestra and had subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, on an unknown date, after disembarking from a cruise that left Durban on 28 February 2020 and returned on 2 March. MSC Cruises South Africa has not been given details of who the passenger is although the Company has tried to obtain them through the authorities – South African Maritime Safety Authority and the Department of Health – to try and establish his health and wellbeing.

  3. MSC Cruises South Africa on 3 April was informed by two separate travel agents that two passengers from Johannesburg who travelled on the 16th to 20th March 2020 cruise, Cruise 2, had tested positive for Covid-19, 11 days after disembarking from the ship. The two passengers had travelled independently of each other. 

 

It is important to note that:

 

  • The 13 March cruise was a three-night cruise. The 16 March cruise was a four-night cruise;
  • The average incubation period of the Covid-19 virus, as determined by the World Health Organization, is between 3.5 and five days and up to 14 days;
  • None of these passengers had displayed any symptoms during the medical and travel history screening that all passengers and crew go through prior to embarking on any MSC Cruises ship;
  • None of these passengers displayed any symptoms when thermally screened with all other passengers before embarkation onto the ship;
  • None of these passengers reported any symptoms to the ship’s onboard medical staff nor reported themselves to the Medical Centre during their respective cruises;
  • All of the crew of MSC Orchestra are 100 per cent fit and well and none of them have tested positive for Covid-19 or displayed any flu-like symptoms during the relevant time period;
  • The Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula on 31 March confirmed that MSC had followed all the correct protocols that were required and the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize indicated that MSC Cruises South Africa had collaborated well with his Department.
  • MSC Cruises provided all the relevant details to the Department of Health in order to help them trace all passengers
  • MSC Cruises South Africa will continue to collaborate with the South African Government’s Department of Health.

 

As soon as the Company learnt about these cases of former passengers testing positive for Covid-19, in an excess of precaution, as for all cases the maximum incubation period for Covid-19 had elapsed, MSC Cruises South Africa quickly communicated to all other passengers on the same cruises and provided guidelines to follow that were in line with international health practices.

THE FOLLOWING TIMELINE CLARIFIES THE FACTS SURROUNDING MSC ORCHESTRA’S RECENT HISTORY IN SOUTH AFRICA

FRIDAY 13 MARCH

MSC Orchestra departed from Durban with 3,131 passengers and 929 crew on board for a three-night cruise and conducted a scheduled visit on 14 March at Portuguese Island, a self-contained island and not connected to the mainland. This is referred to as Cruise 1.

 

SUNDAY 15 MARCH

MSC Cruises South Africa during the day verified with the Transnet National Ports Authority, the South African Police Service, Port Health and the Immigration Services that the port of Durban was not closed and that MSC Orchestra’s next cruise (Cruise 2) would be allowed to sail on the following day (Monday 16 March) and return to Durban on Friday 20 March and that the authorities had no concerns about any health risk.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in the evening announced national travel restrictions, but none that prohibited the legal and rightful departure of MSC Orchestra the following day.

The President said that 35 of the country’s ports of entry would be shut from Monday 16 March and that two of the country’s eight seaports would be closed for passengers and crew changes. No specific ports were named. The address to the nation ended after 9pm.

 

MONDAY 16 MARCH

Cruise 1 concluded with MSC Orchestra’s arrival in Durban at 6am.

There were no cases of any passenger reporting to the ship’s Medical Centre with any flu-like symptoms during the three-night cruise. 

Every passenger that disembarked was screened in collaboration with Port Health authorities and the Department of Health.  

MSC Cruises South Africa once again verified with the Transnet National Ports Authority, the South African Police Services, Port Health and the Immigration Services that the port of Durban was not closed and received all of the necessary authorisations for MSC Orchestra to be allowed to sail later that day to begin Cruise 2, a four-night cruise with one scheduled visit to Pomene, Mozambique.

Prior to the embarkation of passengers, MSC Cruises South Africa, in close cooperation and collaboration with the Port Health and South African Police Services, took a number of steps to screen passengers before they were permitted to board MSC Orchestra. 

Those steps included:

  • Ensured that no person boarded the ship who had travelled from any high-risk country within the previous 14 days;
  • Checked whether anyone boarding the ship had any flu-like symptoms, including fever, by means of thermal screening;
  • Every piece of baggage, whether carry on or otherwise, was disinfected before it was allowed on board;
  • Full sanitisation procedures were followed for all passengers prior to embarkation and once on board the ship.

 

As a result:

  • 3,337 people boarded the ship; 2,408 passengers and 929 crew.2,366 were South African passengers and 132 crew members were South African.
  • Approximately 99 per cent of the passengers on board MSC Orchestra were either South African citizens or people born abroad but who have permanent residence in South Africa and who live in the country. There were no foreign nationals on board who had travelled from a high-risk area in the previous 14 days.
  • 11 people were turned away from the ship as they were either foreign nationals from high-risk countries or who had travelled during the previous 14 days within high-risk countries.

After these stringent checks, MSC Orchestra departed at 3.30pm for her four-night cruise. (Cruise 2).

 

WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH

New National Port Act Regulations became law in South Africa.

The new regulations prohibited the disembarkation of passengers from cruise ships at all ports in South Africa, unless those passengers were South Africans or permanent residents.

The new regulations also effectively banned all passenger cruise ships coming from international waters into South African seaports.

Cruise 2’s proposed call to Pomene was cancelled due to bad weather. As a result, this cruise never touched any port other than Durban – its departure and return port.

 

FRIDAY 20 MARCH

After receiving permission from the Department of Transport, MSC Orchestra arrived in the port of Durban as scheduled. 

All 2,408 passengers disembarked as planned.

The disembarkation was conducted under the auspices and supervision of the Transnet National Ports Authority, Port Health, South African Police Services, Immigration Services and the South African Maritime Safety Authority.

All passengers were individually screened upon arrival in Durban and medically examined by authorities for Covid-19 as prescribed by Regulation 4, Regulations issued in terms of Section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act.

MSC Cruises South Africa fully complied with all applicable legislation and directives from authorities at the port of Durban.

Passengers were permitted to disembark 100 at a time in order to comply with regulations that prevented more than 100 people from gathering in a seaport precinct.

All of the disembarked passengers cleared Port Health and Immigration Services processes and all passengers then left the cruise terminal for their onward journeys.

 

SUNDAY 22 MARCH

The Newcastle Advertiser newspaper ran a story titled ‘Newcastle woman tests positive for Covid-19 at private lab’.

The story was about a female cruise passenger who had developed flu-like symptoms on board a cruise ship.

No cruise line nor any cruise ship name was mentioned in the article.

However, in a display of duty in the interests of public health, MSC Cruises South Africa contacted SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) to say that as no cruise ship had been named, the Company did not know if she was a passenger on MSC Orchestra or a ship operated by another company in South Africa or internationally.

The woman had not been named in the article, so if she had been a passenger on MSC Orchestra the Company had no way of reviewing passenger manifests to determine which cruise she had been on.

MSC Cruises South Africa said to SAMSA that it was willing to cooperate in any way possible. However, unless and until the Company had some more information, it could not investigate further.

MSC Cruises South Africa had not been notified by any former passenger, Port Health authority or the Government that a former passenger on board one of its cruises in South Africa had tested positive for Covid-19. 

If the Company had received notification, it would have acted appropriately and followed the requirements stipulated by the national Government and the Department of Health.

 

MONDAY 23 MARCH

MSC Cruises South Africa contacted the reporter who wrote the Newcastle Advertiser article and clarified that no health authorities had contacted the cruise line about this particular passenger nor had anyone in Government asked the Company for information. 

The journalist was unable to provide information regarding the passenger due to confidentiality.

MSC Cruises South Africa contacted SAMSA again to try and seek further clarification about the situation.

 

FRIDAY 27 MARCH

MSC Cruises South Africa was notified by Port Health in Durban that a passenger who travelled on MSC Orchestra between 13-16 March (Cruise 1) had tested positive for Covid-19.

The passenger did not report any symptoms to the ship’s on-board medical staff during the three-night cruise and had tested positive 5 days after leaving the ship.

MSC Cruises South Africa immediately, and in line with accepted medical protocols, sent out a communication to all passengers who had been on the same cruise (Cruise 1) that a fellow passenger had tested positive after their return home.


TUESDAY 31 MARCH

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize hosted a press briefing during which he announced a second case of a male passenger from the Free State province who had travelled on board MSC Orchestra and had tested positive for Covid-19, on an unknown date, after disembarking from a cruise that left Durban on 28 February and returned on 2 March.

 

Unfortunately, MSC Cruises South Africa did not have the passenger’s details despite trying to obtain them through the authorities and so the Company was unable to contact the passenger directly to understand their health and wellbeing.

Shortly after the Health Minister’s public announcement, and in line with accepted medical protocols, MSC Cruises South Africa immediately communicated to all passengers who had been on the same cruise.

The communication noted that a fellow passenger had tested positive one month after disembarkation and, out of an excess of precaution, recommended, as agreed with the Department of Health, that they look out for any flu-like symptoms and quickly report any signs of cold, flu symptoms or fever to their local health authority and to their general practitioner.

In addition, the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula confirmed that MSC Cruises South Africa had followed all protocols that were required, and the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize indicated that MSC had collaborated well with his Department.


WEDNESDAY 1 APRIL

MSC Cruises South Africa urged publicly that passengers on Cruise 2 (16th to 20th March) should contact their general practitioner.

 

FRIDAY 3 APRIL

MSC Cruises South Africa was informed during late afternoon by two separate travel agents that two passengers from Durban who had travelled on Cruise 2, between 16-20 March had tested positive for Covid-19.

The two passengers had travelled independently of each other.

MSC Cruises South Africa learned from the travel agents that both passengers had initially tested positive several days after disembarking from the cruise.

The test results of both passengers were communicated to MSC Cruises South Africa, 14 days after disembarkation, by the passengers’ travel agent to MSC Cruises South Africa.

The average incubation period of the Covid-19 virus, as determined by the World Health Organization, is between 3.5 and five days and up to 14 days.

None of the 929 crew who were onboard Cruise 2 have shown any flu-like symptoms during the past 14 days.

 

SATURDAY 4 APRIL

MSC Cruise South Africa, in line with accepted medical protocols, communicated to all passengers who had been in the same cruise – Cruise 2 – that fellow passengers had tested positive for coronavirus

 

CONCLUSION

 

MSC Cruises South Africa has at ALL times:


Obtained all of the required authorisations for MSC Orchestra to sail;


Complied with legislation throughout;


Provided all the relevant details to the Department of Health in order to help them trace all passengers;


Collaborated closely with;


  • South African Government’s Department of Health
  • South African Government’s Department of Transport
  • South African Maritime Safety Authority
  • South African Police Service
  • South African Immigration Services
  • Durban Port Health
  • Transnet National Port Authority

  

The Company’s collaborative approach has been acknowledged by;

  • Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health, South African Government
  • Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Transport, South African Government.

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

In accordance with the announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa, regarding the National Lockdown for 21 days, MSC Cruises South Africa offices and Call Centre will be closed from 14:30 on Thursday 26th March 2020.

 

In line with the national lockdown, we are working remotely and invite you to email us at info@msccruises.co.za for any cruising queries you may have and if you’d like to make a booking please do so on our website.

 

Find our Travel and Health update here

For the latest news and updates from the Department of Health on COVID-19 CLICK HERE


We sincerely thank all our guests for your continued support and we wish you good health and strength during this uncertain and difficult time.

 

We look forward to welcoming you on board soon.

MSC CRUISES SOUTH AFRICA STATEMENT

MSC ORCHESTRA

13 March-4 April 2020

 

The world is facing an unprecedented time right now. Since the rapid global spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus everyone has been called upon to take appropriate measures to contain the virus.

There have been some questions asked whether MSC Cruises South Africa had permission for its ship MSC Orchestra to set sail on 16 March from Durban.

 

MSC Cruises South Africa had ALL of the necessary, official and lawful maritime authorizations.

 

Those permissions were granted by the Department of Health, the South African Police Services and the Immigration Services.

 

From the South African Government, both Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize have acknowledged that MSC Cruises South Africa fully adhered to and obtained all the required necessary and lawful permissions.

 

More broadly, and in line with efforts to curb the spread of the virus, since January 2020 MSC Cruises South Africa imposed strict preventative health measures for the safety and wellbeing of its passengers and crew. These included:

 

  • Screening of all passengers and crew, both in terms of their health and travel history.
  • Anyone who failed a pre-embarkation test was denied boarding on any MSC Cruises ship.
  • All passengers and crew were thermally screened prior to boarding a ship.
  • Deep cleaning and sanitation measures on-board every ship at the start, during and at the end of each cruise.
  • As new regulations were put in place in South Africa (on 18 March 2020) MSC Cruises South Africa followed the updated guidelines around social distancing to ensure that the correct disembarkation process was followed and complied with under the guidance of the Department of Transport – i.e. not more than 100 passengers could disembark at a time.

 

 

 

MSC ORCHESTRA WAS DEDICATED IN THE WINTER 2019/20 SEASON (NOVEMBER TO APRIL) FOR CRUISES FROM DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

 

OVERVIEW

 

MSC Orchestra was dedicated in the winter 2019/20 season (November to April) for cruises from Durban, South Africa.

 

The overwhelming majority of passengers who sailed on MSC Orchestra between November and 20 March 2020 were South African residents.

 

All crew on board MSC Orchestra were either South African or have been in South Africa since November 2019.

 

MSC Cruises South Africa on 17 March announced that it would cancel all remaining cruises for the 2020 season, to strengthen and complement the effectiveness of measures put in place by the South African government to contain the further spread of Covid-19.

 

MSC Cruises on the same day, in line with many other industries including the hospitality and travel sectors, temporarily halted its global operation. 

 

 

13 AND 16 MARCH CRUISES

 

For both cruises with departures on the 13th and the 16th March, MSC Cruises South Africa received authorisations from the relevant authorities (Port Health, South African Police Services, Immigration Services) that its ship, MSC Orchestra, was allowed to sail from Durban.

 

The Company was recently informed of four separate cases of passengers who had tested positive for Covid-19 several days after having disembarked from the ship.

 

  1. MSC Cruises South Africa was informed on 27 March that a female passenger from Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal who was on the cruise that departed Durban on 13 March, Cruise 1, had tested positive five days after disembarking. MSC Cruises South Africa was in direct contact with her during the week of 30 March and thankfully she has fully recovered and is in good health.

 

  1. Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on 31 March hosted a press briefing during which he announced a second case of a male passenger from the Free State province who had travelled on board MSC Orchestra and had subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, on an unknown date, after disembarking from a cruise that left Durban on 28 February 2020 and returned on 2 March. MSC Cruises South Africa has not been given details of who the passenger is although the Company has tried to obtain them through the authorities – South African Maritime Safety Authority and the Department of Health – to try and establish his health and wellbeing.

 

  1. MSC Cruises South Africa on 3 April was informed by two separate travel agents that two passengers from Johannesburg who travelled on the 16th to 20th March 2020 cruise, Cruise 2, had tested positive for Covid-19, 11 days after disembarking from the ship. The two passengers had travelled independently of each other. 

 

It is important to note that:

 

  • The 13 March cruise was a three-night cruise. The 16 March cruise was a four-night cruise;
  • The average incubation period of the Covid-19 virus, as determined by the World Health Organization, is between 3.5 and five days and up to 14 days;
  • None of these passengers had displayed any symptoms during the medical and travel history screening that all passengers and crew go through prior to embarking on any MSC Cruises ship;
  • None of these passengers displayed any symptoms when thermally screened with all other passengers before embarkation onto the ship;
  • None of these passengers reported any symptoms to the ship’s onboard medical staff nor reported themselves to the Medical Centre during their respective cruises;
  • All of the crew of MSC Orchestra are 100 per cent fit and well and none of them have tested positive for Covid-19 or displayed any flu-like symptoms during the relevant time period;
  • The Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula on 31 March confirmed that MSC had followed all the correct protocols that were required and the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize indicated that MSC Cruises South Africa had collaborated well with his Department.
  • MSC Cruises provided all the relevant details to the Department of Health in order to help them trace all passengers
  • MSC Cruises South Africa will continue to collaborate with the South African Government’s Department of Health.

 

As soon as the Company learnt about these cases of former passengers testing positive for Covid-19, in an excess of precaution, as for all cases the maximum incubation period for Covid-19 had elapsed, MSC Cruises South Africa quickly communicated to all other passengers on the same cruises and provided guidelines to follow that were in line with international health practices.

 

THE FOLLOWING TIMELINE CLARIFIES THE FACTS SURROUNDING MSC ORCHESTRA’S RECENT HISTORY IN SOUTH AFRICA

 

FRIDAY 13 MARCH

MSC Orchestra departed from Durban with 3,131 passengers and 929 crew on board for a three-night cruise and conducted a scheduled visit on 14 March at Portuguese Island, a self-contained island and not connected to the mainland. This is referred to as Cruise 1.

 

SUNDAY 15 MARCH

MSC Cruises South Africa during the day verified with the Transnet National Ports Authority, the South African Police Service, Port Health and the Immigration Services that the port of Durban was not closed and that MSC Orchestra’s next cruise (Cruise 2) would be allowed to sail on the following day (Monday 16 March) and return to Durban on Friday 20 March and that the authorities had no concerns about any health risk.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in the evening announced national travel restrictions, but none that prohibited the legal and rightful departure of MSC Orchestra the following day.

The President said that 35 of the country’s ports of entry would be shut from Monday 16 March and that two of the country’s eight seaports would be closed for passengers and crew changes. No specific ports were named. The address to the nation ended after 9pm.

 

MONDAY 16 MARCH

Cruise 1 concluded with MSC Orchestra’s arrival in Durban at 6am.

There were no cases of any passenger reporting to the ship’s Medical Centre with any flu-like symptoms during the three-night cruise. 

Every passenger that disembarked was screened in collaboration with Port Health authorities and the Department of Health.  

MSC Cruises South Africa once again verified with the Transnet National Ports Authority, the South African Police Services, Port Health and the Immigration Services that the port of Durban was not closed and received all of the necessary authorisations for MSC Orchestra to be allowed to sail later that day to begin Cruise 2, a four-night cruise with one scheduled visit to Pomene, Mozambique.

Prior to the embarkation of passengers, MSC Cruises South Africa, in close cooperation and collaboration with the Port Health and South African Police Services, took a number of steps to screen passengers before they were permitted to board MSC Orchestra. 

Those steps included:

  • Ensured that no person boarded the ship who had travelled from any high-risk country within the previous 14 days;
  • Checked whether anyone boarding the ship had any flu-like symptoms, including fever, by means of thermal screening;
  • Every piece of baggage, whether carry on or otherwise, was disinfected before it was allowed on board;
  • Full sanitisation procedures were followed for all passengers prior to embarkation and once on board the ship.

 

As a result:

  • 3,337 people boarded the ship; 2,408 passengers and 929 crew.2,366 were South African passengers and 132 crew members were South African.
  • Approximately 99 per cent of the passengers on board MSC Orchestra were either South African citizens or people born abroad but who have permanent residence in South Africa and who live in the country. There were no foreign nationals on board who had travelled from a high-risk area in the previous 14 days.
  • 11 people were turned away from the ship as they were either foreign nationals from high-risk countries or who had travelled during the previous 14 days within high-risk countries.

After these stringent checks, MSC Orchestra departed at 3.30pm for her four-night cruise. (Cruise 2).

 

WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH

New National Port Act Regulations became law in South Africa.

The new regulations prohibited the disembarkation of passengers from cruise ships at all ports in South Africa, unless those passengers were South Africans or permanent residents.

The new regulations also effectively banned all passenger cruise ships coming from international waters into South African seaports.

Cruise 2’s proposed call to Pomene was cancelled due to bad weather. As a result, this cruise never touched any port other than Durban – its departure and return port.

 

FRIDAY 20 MARCH

After receiving permission from the Department of Transport, MSC Orchestra arrived in the port of Durban as scheduled. 

All 2,408 passengers disembarked as planned.

The disembarkation was conducted under the auspices and supervision of the Transnet National Ports Authority, Port Health, South African Police Services, Immigration Services and the South African Maritime Safety Authority.

All passengers were individually screened upon arrival in Durban and medically examined by authorities for Covid-19 as prescribed by Regulation 4, Regulations issued in terms of Section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act.

MSC Cruises South Africa fully complied with all applicable legislation and directives from authorities at the port of Durban.

Passengers were permitted to disembark 100 at a time in order to comply with regulations that prevented more than 100 people from gathering in a seaport precinct.

All of the disembarked passengers cleared Port Health and Immigration Services processes and all passengers then left the cruise terminal for their onward journeys.

 

SUNDAY 22 MARCH

The Newcastle Advertiser newspaper ran a story titled ‘Newcastle woman tests positive for Covid-19 at private lab’.

The story was about a female cruise passenger who had developed flu-like symptoms on board a cruise ship.

No cruise line nor any cruise ship name was mentioned in the article.

However, in a display of duty in the interests of public health, MSC Cruises South Africa contacted SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) to say that as no cruise ship had been named, the Company did not know if she was a passenger on MSC Orchestra or a ship operated by another company in South Africa or internationally.

The woman had not been named in the article, so if she had been a passenger on MSC Orchestra the Company had no way of reviewing passenger manifests to determine which cruise she had been on.

MSC Cruises South Africa said to SAMSA that it was willing to cooperate in any way possible. However, unless and until the Company had some more information, it could not investigate further.

MSC Cruises South Africa had not been notified by any former passenger, Port Health authority or the Government that a former passenger on board one of its cruises in South Africa had tested positive for Covid-19. 

If the Company had received notification, it would have acted appropriately and followed the requirements stipulated by the national Government and the Department of Health.

 

MONDAY 23 MARCH

MSC Cruises South Africa contacted the reporter who wrote the Newcastle Advertiser article and clarified that no health authorities had contacted the cruise line about this particular passenger nor had anyone in Government asked the Company for information. 

The journalist was unable to provide information regarding the passenger due to confidentiality.

MSC Cruises South Africa contacted SAMSA again to try and seek further clarification about the situation.

 

FRIDAY 27 MARCH

MSC Cruises South Africa was notified by Port Health in Durban that a passenger who travelled on MSC Orchestra between 13-16 March (Cruise 1) had tested positive for Covid-19.

The passenger did not report any symptoms to the ship’s on-board medical staff during the three-night cruise and had tested positive 5 days after leaving the ship.

MSC Cruises South Africa immediately, and in line with accepted medical protocols, sent out a communication to all passengers who had been on the same cruise (Cruise 1) that a fellow passenger had tested positive after their return home.

 

TUESDAY 31 MARCH

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize hosted a press briefing during which he announced a second case of a male passenger from the Free State province who had travelled on board MSC Orchestra and had tested positive for Covid-19, on an unknown date, after disembarking from a cruise that left Durban on 28 February and returned on 2 March.

 

Unfortunately, MSC Cruises South Africa did not have the passenger’s details despite trying to obtain them through the authorities and so the Company was unable to contact the passenger directly to understand their health and wellbeing.

Shortly after the Health Minister’s public announcement, and in line with accepted medical protocols, MSC Cruises South Africa immediately communicated to all passengers who had been on the same cruise.

The communication noted that a fellow passenger had tested positive one month after disembarkation and, out of an excess of precaution, recommended, as agreed with the Department of Health, that they look out for any flu-like symptoms and quickly report any signs of cold, flu symptoms or fever to their local health authority and to their general practitioner.

In addition, the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula confirmed that MSC Cruises South Africa had followed all protocols that were required, and the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize indicated that MSC had collaborated well with his Department.

 

WEDNESDAY 1 APRIL

MSC Cruises South Africa urged publicly that passengers on Cruise 2 (16th to 20th March) should contact their general practitioner.

 

FRIDAY 3 APRIL

MSC Cruises South Africa was informed during late afternoon by two separate travel agents that two passengers from Durban who had travelled on Cruise 2, between 16-20 March had tested positive for Covid-19.

The two passengers had travelled independently of each other.

MSC Cruises South Africa learned from the travel agents that both passengers had initially tested positive several days after disembarking from the cruise.

The test results of both passengers were communicated to MSC Cruises South Africa, 14 days after disembarkation, by the passengers’ travel agent to MSC Cruises South Africa.

The average incubation period of the Covid-19 virus, as determined by the World Health Organization, is between 3.5 and five days and up to 14 days.

None of the 929 crew who were onboard Cruise 2 have shown any flu-like symptoms during the past 14 days.

 

SATURDAY 4 APRIL

MSC Cruise South Africa, in line with accepted medical protocols, communicated to all passengers who had been in the same cruise – Cruise 2 – that fellow passengers had tested positive for coronavirus

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

MSC Cruises South Africa has at ALL times:

 

Obtained all of the required authorisations for MSC Orchestra to sail;

 

Complied with legislation throughout;

 

Provided all the relevant details to the Department of Health in order to help them trace all passengers;

 

Collaborated closely with;

 

  • South African Government’s Department of Health
  • South African Government’s Department of Transport
  • South African Maritime Safety Authority
  • South African Police Service
  • South African Immigration Services
  • Durban Port Health
  • Transnet National Port Authority

  

The Company’s collaborative approach has been acknowledged by;

 

  • Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health, South African Government
  • Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Transport, South African Government.

 

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

In accordance with the announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa, regarding the National Lockdown for 21 days, MSC Cruises South Africa offices and Call Centre will be closed from 14:30 on Thursday 26th March 2020.

 

In line with the national lockdown, we are working remotely and invite you to email us at info@msccruises.co.za for any cruising queries you may have and if you’d like to make a booking please do so on our website.

 

Find our Travel and Health updates here

 

For the latest news and updates from the Department of Health on COVID-19 CLICK HERE

 

We sincerely thank all our guests for your continued support and we wish you good health and strength during this uncertain and difficult time.

 

We look forward to welcoming you on board soon.