All passengers have disembarked from MSC Orchestra: Samsa

All passengers have disembarked from the MSC Orchestra.
All passengers have disembarked from the MSC Orchestra.
Image: MSC Cruises

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) said on Tuesday that all 2,408 passengers who were on the MSC Orchestra cruise ship have disembarked at the Durban port.

"The disembarkation process followed strict protocols as issued by the South African Department of Health. The passengers were disembarked in batches of 100 and each passenger went through a screening test," the authority said in a statement.

The MSC Orchestra left Durban on Monday March 16, a day after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a raft of measures to quell the spread of coronavirus, including the closure of some sea ports.

Following its departure last Monday, transport minister Fikile Mbalula said the ship will be dealt with in terms of the new regulations when it returned and will have to be isolated as a quarantined vessel when it returned to SA.

The MSC Orchestra returned to the port of Durban last Friday and passengers remained on board until Sunday, when the process of disembarkation began.

The authority said for the duration of the cruise, Port Health authorities requested and received from the vessel eight-hourly medical reports from the doctor onboard the vessel. It said all the passengers were requested to report on their health status.

"This information was considered when the vessel arrived in port and although there was no report of any ill passengers on board, the screening was still conducted as an additional measure."

The authority said the committee that oversaw the disembarkation comprised of all the agents working with the port, including the department of health, the police, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and Immigration Services.