An Indian cargo bulk carrier docked in Durban harbour on Sunday and is being quarantined after a crew member died during the 14-day journey from India to SA.
14 of the crew have been isolated pending the results of Covid-19 testing. This comes as the Indian subcontinent has emerged as the global pandemic epicenter and is reporting more than 300,000 new Covid-19 cases a day. The new cases and associated fatalities are largely driven by the B.1.617 variant.
On Tuesday, port authorities were informed to halt all operations and interaction on the vessel — which had been transporting rice.
A senior port official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least 200 port employees had been working on the vessel since Sunday evening.
“The ship arrived on Sunday night at around 8.30pm. One of the crew members had died during the voyage and we were told that it was of a heart attack. This morning we were informed by health officials to stop all operations with the vessel. The captain of the ship remains on board but 14 of his crew were taken away for testing.”
It is understood that at least 3,000 tonnes of rice had been manually offloaded from the vessel and transported to a warehouse at the port.
“The rice come in 50kg bags. We are a bit concerned because a lot of people have boarded that vessel since Sunday.”
A source at the SA Revenue Service’s customs division confirmed the information and said health officials from Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) were aware of the matter.
“The vessel is currently on quarantine. No one is allowed to leave or enter the vessel, and the company responsible for anyone who worked onboard is to track and trace all employees who interacted with the subject vessel.”
The bulk carrier, the name cannot be revealed at this stage as efforts to contact the owners are ongoing, departed from India on April 18 and arrived in Durban on Sunday.