By Kaya 959 News
Despite several people who have recently travelled to South Africa from India testing positive for COVID-19, the Health Department has confirmed that there are no B.1.617 variant cases in South Africa.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the variant has not been detected in SA, however, genomics teams are working with samples and they will need some time before they are able to provide a definitive answer.
On Tuesday night, the Transnet National Ports Authority confirmed that 14 crew members aboard the bulk carrier, Eaubonne, had tested positive for COVID-19.
TNPA says the vessel had berthed at the Port of Durban Sunday and that as a standard precautionary measure, all crew members were tested.
“Fourteen (14) of the crew members tested positive. The entire vessel is currently in quarantine at the Port of Durban as per Covid-19 regulations. Contact tracking and tracing is being undertaken.”
Vessel’s chief engineer dies
The vessel’s chief engineer has since died of a heart attack. TNPA says the Filipino-crewed vessel was a 17-day direct sail from India to Durban.
In a separate case, Mkhize said that samples taken from a traveller from India revealed that the patient had contracted 501Y.V2.
“We remain mindful of the advice from the World Health Organisation that all variants are managed the same- prevention by adhering to NPI’s, early detection, contact tracing and testing and quarantine or isolation.
“These all form part of the regulations that govern the management of Covid-19 and it has been through adherence to these regulations that we have detected and contained Covid-19 cases at ports of entry,” Mkhize says.
Travellers from India monitored
He said three air passengers who travelled to Durban via Doha last month are in isolation.
Mkhize Port Health has provided details of passengers who were close contacts and National Institute for Communicable Diseases has overseen the cases for sample collection, contact tracing and intensified surveillance.
Regarding the bulk carrier, Mkhize says as all the members are asymptomatic, it was elected to keep all the crew on board in appropriate quarantine or isolation conditions.
He says the vessel has been secured and is currently under strict security in its berth until authorities decide to move it to the outer anchorage under strict security until the containment period is successfully completed.
In Gqeberha, a vessel that departed from Kenya berthed at the port and was granted access based on a report by the shipmaster that there were no reported illnesses on board.
“The following day the shipmaster reported an ill crew member, who was immediately transferred out of the ship to a healthcare facility. The ill crew member together with three other crew members who were due to depart by air to their home country were immediately subjected to PCR tests. Upon testing positive for Covid-19, these crew members were subsequently isolated,” Mkhize says.
10 crew members in isolation
A further ten crew members have been detected with COVID-19 and are isolating for 10 days at designated facilities. The other 10 members that tested negative will remain in quarantine on the ship
The officials of the Nelson Mandela Bay Health District will be responsible for monitoring the crew who are in isolation and to also complete the containment measures. The vessel has been similarly secured in port to ensure that there is no unauthorised access to and from the vessel.
“We have consulted the Ministerial Advisory Committee as well as the genomics team to guide us on the management of travelers at ports of entry during these challenging times.
“The government will be determining the next steps to follow and announcements will be made on the state of variants of concern in our context and what measures will be implemented to mitigate against the importation of Covid-19 in general,” Mkhize said.