SA Cruise News

What the Coronavirus outbreak means for South African cruise sector

MSC Cruises, the largest homeporting cruise line in South Africa, does not expect the coronavirus outbreak to have a significant impact on the local cruise market, but is stepping up pre-cruise health screening.

When boarding MSC Orchestra, which is currently cruising roundtrip from Durban to islands off the coast of Mozambique, passengers will need to fill in a form confirming that they have not been to mainland China in the past 30 days.

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Any passengers who have visited mainland China will not be allowed to board the ship, MSC Cruises told IOL.

The measures come as the flu-like virus continues to spread around the world, with the majority of cases originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan. More than 10,000 people have been infected and over 200 have died.

MSC Orchestra will remain in South Africa, homeporting in Durban, until April 18thand MSC Cruises says there have not been any virus-related cancellations or any reports of the virus on any of its ships.

“While there are no cases of coronavirus on board any of MSC Cruises’ ships, these measures are additional steps to secure the health and well-being of all guests and crew,” the cruise line said in a statement.

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In addition to the pre-boarding questionnaire, MSC Cruises is also implementing non-touch thermal scans for all guests and crew prior to embarkation.

Anybodywith signs or symptoms of illness such as feveror feverishness, chills, cough or difficulty breathing will be denied embarkation.

If passengersdevelopfever symptomsduring the cruise theywill be isolated in their cabin along with any passengers they are travelling with, andany crew member who may have served the guests.

MSC Orchestra is cruising from Durban and Cape Town for the 2019/2020 cruise season

“MSC Cruises has been closely monitoring the public health and safety situation in each of the regions where its ships sail,” the cruise line said. “The company has been consulting with international and local health authorities to follow their advice and recommendations.”

At the time of writing, there were no reports of coronavirus in South Africa, where health authorities have said they are prepared to contain any signs of an outbreak.

“There are no cases of this new infection here and I believe that should cases arise, and that will happen sooner or later, then we are well set up to diagnose them in time and to care for them under the necessary precautions so that onward transmission is prevented,” says Professor Wolfgang Preiser, head of medical virology at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“It is really not necessary to be nervous,” he added.

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