Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
6 May 2021
9:12 am

Covid-19: Crew member on ship hospitalised over breathing difficulties

Molefe Seeletsa

Several samples have been taken for testing for the Indian B.1.617 variant, with the results expected to come out in a week.

Picture: iStock

One of the 14 crew members of a vessel, the Eaubonne, docked at the Port of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal has been hospitalised after experiencing breathing difficulties.

This is according to Durban Port general manager Moshe Motlohi.

“One of the 14 crew members that were in quarantine has been taken to hospital [because] he had breathing difficulties. The rest of the crew members [13 of them] are still on the ship… everyone else is okay. Everybody on that ship is quarantined in his or her own cabin so they are not mixing with each other,” he told eNCA on Wednesday.

Motlohi said the crew members had enough supplies – including food and water – until the 14-day quarantine period was completed.

“It is also important to mention that none of the crew members had stepped outside the vessel [when it arrived]… they remained on board as is the standard. Only if they had done the test here in Durban would they be allowed to step off the ship,” he said.

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The crew members tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving from India which has seen a resurgence of infections.

The Filipino-crewed vessel docked in Durban on Sunday, May 2, after a 17-day voyage from the subcontinent.

Port health officials were told that the vessel’s chief engineer died due to a heart attack, which Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize confirmed this week.

“The body was subsequently transported to a state mortuary for a postmortem. Due to sampling difficulties, authorities still await the PCR test result. However, contact tracing proceeded for 21 crew members. Of those, 14 have been detected with Covid-19 and seven have tested negative,” Mkhize said.

Concerns over new variants

Mkhize also noted that several samples were taken to test for the B.1.617 variant, circulating widely in India.

According to Professor Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KZN Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, the results of the samples might come out in a week’s time.

De Oliveira told eNCA they had received results from one of the three travellers – who are in isolation – who tested positive for Covid-19 after they arrived at King Shaka International Airport in late April.

“[On Tuesday], we got the results of a traveller from India to South Africa.  When we genotyped the virus this individual was infected with the 501Y.V2 variant or the B1.351 originally found here in South Africa.

“So what is happening in India at the moment is that they have three different variants. The B.1.617, which was discovered in India, the B.1.1.7 was first discovered in the UK and the one discovered in South Africa. All three of [the variants] are causing 90% of the infections so you have multiple variants circulating in India,” he said.

While the B.1.1.7 variant has since spread to almost 100 countries, including South Africa, the B.1.617 variant has not been detected in the country as of yet.

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