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Ship placed under quarantine in Durban in fear of Coronavirus

Ship in detention coronavirus

The bulk carrier Eaubonne (former name GH Storm Cat) is  now (4 May) under quarantine in Durban harbour. On the same day that the South African government issued a statement saying that the ports were on high alert for the Indian variant of the Coronavirus (B.1.617) that has emerged in devastating numbers in India, it was learnt that a ship that arrived on Sunday night, 2 May, has been placed under quarantine after the discovery that a crew member had died en route. Another 14 crew have since been taken for testing for Covid-19.

All our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19,’ said Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in the statement issued on 4 May 2021.

The ship Eaubonne (IMO 9663104), sailed from the port of Kandla in India on 18 April on a 14-day voyage to Durban, where she arrived off port on 1 May, prior to entering port and berthing at Maydon Wharf 2 on 2 May at 2000.

During the voyage one of the crew members passed away and authorities in Durban were advised that he died of a heart attack.

The ship was carrying a cargo of 6,250 tons of rice to be discharged in Durban.

However, on 4 May dock workers and others working on the ship were told to stop all operations and that the vessel was under quarantine. Fourteen of the crew were taken for COVID-19 testing but the real worry is that a large number of dockworkers had already been exposed to the crew.

It was suggested that as many as several hundred dock workers and others might have been on the ship since Sunday.

All our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19,’ said Dr Mkhize, indicating a concern that a new variant of the virus might slip through.

He said while the variant was yet to be detected in South Africa, members of the genomics team had informed government that they had intensified surveillance to not only ensure detection of the virus but to also understand its implications.

This comes as India has seen a resurgence of COVID-19 cases attributed in part to the circulation of different variants, including the B.1.617 Coronavirus variant.

Michelle Groome, Head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said testing of COVID-19 positive samples from travellers entering South Africa from India and their close contacts will be prioritised: ‘This will enable us to detect the B.1.617 and any other variants in a timely manner.’

Despite the Health Minister giving his reassurances that there were currently no direct flights from India, it would appear that seaports are lower on government’s

agenda.

Eaubonne

The ship is a bulk carrier of 63,308-dwt and has an overall length of 200 metres and a width of 32m.

Eaubonne is owned by Danish interests, operating with the name GH Storm Cat LLC which minus the LLC was also the name of the ship between 2016 and February this year when she was renamed Eaubonne. The ship and commercial manager is Celsius Shipping ApS of Hellerup in Denmark.

Registered in the Marshall islands, the vessel was built seven years ago in 2014.

This article was first published on 4 May 2021 in Africa Ports & Ships (www.africaports.co.za ) and appears here by kind permission of the Editor

www.africaports.co.za  ©.

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

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