AIDAmira Held at Cape Town Over Potential Coronavirus Concerns

AIDAmira at Cape Town (N. Crowie / Twitter)

Published Mar 17, 2020 1:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

South African authorities have quarantined 1,720 people aboard the cruise ship AIDAmira at Cape Town while awaiting the results of coronavirus testing for six passengers.

On March 9, six AIDAmira passengers shared an airplane flight from Istanbul to Cape Town with a sailor who has since developed symptoms, according to a statement from port operator Transnet. Operator AIDA has confirmed the incident. 

"Six guests with possible contact are being checked,” said AIDA head of communications Hansjörg Kunze, speaking to South African outlet Times Live. “The guests have already been on board for one week without showing any symptoms. We have arranged flights accordingly to bring our guests home quickly. For this, however, we are lacking clearance of the local authorities.”

The six passengers in question have been disembarked for testing and quarantine on shore, according to Times Live.

The sailor who has developed symptoms is not affiliated with AIDAmira: he was on the passengers' flight to Cape Town in order to join a different ship, the merchant bulker Corona (IMO 9169342, ex name FSL Durban) which is also under quarantine at an anchorage outside the port. The Corona's suspected coronavirus case is the first in a South African seaport, Transnet said. 

The Corona departed Cape Town on March 11, but on March 13 her master informed South African maritime authorities that an individual on board had developed symptoms of the disease. The captain requested permission to return to port, which was granted. The suspected case and one additional crew member who shared the same airplane flight have both been placed in isolation on board the vessel.