Coronavirus: Hundreds stranded on ships off Cape Town

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Pumza Fihlani

More than 1,700 people are stranded on a cruise liner and a cargo ship off the coast of Cape Town in South Africa over fears that some of them are infected with coronavirus.

Concerns were raised by the port authorities after a member of the cargo ship’s crew, who had flown in from Turkey on 9 March, began to show symptoms of the virus.

He has been isolated on board the MV Corona along with another crew member he was with on the flight with from Turkey

Contact tracing has revealed that six other people on that flight went on to board the luxury cruise liner Aida Amira.

It set sail the next day, visiting Lüderitz and Walvis Bay in Namibia before recently returning to Cape Town.

Passengers on board the Aida Amira in Cape Town, South Africa
Many of the passengers are believed to be German and Austrian nationalsImage caption: Many of the passengers are believed to be German and Austrian nationals

The vessels are mainly carrying German and Austrian nationals.

The health authorities are now awaiting the results for the seven people traced to the MV Corona crew member who is ill. They have all been tested for the virus.

“We are prioritising the testing,” health ministry spokesperson Popo Maja told the BBC

South Africa has so far recorded 116 cases, most of them involving people who had been in Europe.

However, the country is now beginning to report cases of local transmission.