- The health ministry is urgently seeking advice on the detection of Covid-19 cases at South Africa’s ports of entry.
- The Ministerial Advisory Committee is being consulted.
- There is rising concern about a new variant of the coronavirus that was detected in India, and an alleged false declaration of Covid-19 test results on crew of a ship that berthed in Gqeberha.
The Health Ministry is urgently seeking advice on how to handle a rise in Covid-19 cases at South Africa’s ports of entry.
“This increase in [the] detection of cases at the ports of entry is of deep concern to us as government, and we have been attending to this as a matter of urgency,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.
The Ministerial Advisory Committee is being consulted.
The government’s efforts to seek advice come after 14 crew were quarantined on a bulk carrier cargo vessel from India at Durban Port as well as allegedly fraudulent Covid-19 declarations on a ship from Kenya.
READ Covid-19: Cargo ship from India quarantined in Durban port after 14 crew test positive
The ministry is also expected to say how it will handle the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus in India, which is causing jitters over international travel to South Africa.
During the hard lockdown last year, international travel was suspended to stem the spread of the virus.
READ Covid-19: SA does not have the B.1.617 variant which is prevalent in India – Zweli Mkhize
With South Africa’s relatively low vaccination rates, there is rising concern over how the new variant will affect a possible “third wave” of infections.
According to the ministry, by Tuesday night, South Africa had recorded 1 187 new cases and 59 deaths.
Commenting on the alleged false declarations on the ship from Mombasa, Kenya, the health department said the matter was handed over to the police.
The ship was granted permission to berth in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), based on a report from the shipmaster that there were no reported illnesses on board.
However, the shipmaster later reported that an ill crew member was immediately transferred off the ship to a healthcare facility.
The ill crew member and three other crew were due to fly home and underwent polymer chain reaction tests on 26 April, which showed they had Covid-19.
Through tracing and further testing, another 10 crew members were found to have Covid-19 and were isolated.
Their 10 other colleagues are quarantined on the ship.
“It is deeply unfortunate that the master of the vessel is found to have made a false declaration regarding the health status of the vessel and crew,” Mkhize said.
The department said that ship was neither bound for India, nor had it come from that country.
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