AIDAmira passengers test negative

Coronavirus spark fears

18 March 2020 | Health

Hansjörg Kunze: AIDA; “All guests have been symptom-free since check in…”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]


Residents of Walvis Bay can breathe a sigh of relief, as the six passengers isolated in South Africa who travelled from the Namibian port to South Africa last week on the AIDAmira, tested negative for the virus.

Kathrin Heitmann from AIDA cruises confirmed that all tests came back as negative.

“Nothing should stand in our way to transport our guests from the ship to aeroplanes to take them home,” Heitmann said.

Hansjörg Kunze, also from AIDA, said that no passengers joined the cruise itinerary of the AIDAmira when it visited Namibia.

After the ship's arrival in Cape Town on Tuesday, six guests of AIDAmira were asked by the local health authorities to go ashore to clarify an issue.

“This was done to review possible previous contact cases before these guests boarded the ship more than a week ago in Cape Town. All guests have been symptom-free since check in on board the AIDAmira.”

The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) Commercial Executive Tino Hanabeb on Tuesday said that the six Aidamira passengers placed under quarantine in South Africa, which also docked in Walvis Bay, was a precaution from the side of the South African authorities.

“The six passengers were on a plane with a person that exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus. The person was not part of the vessel. The vessel isn’t under quarantine, but rather isolation.”

A Namport tally sheet shows that the vessel arrived at Lüderitz on 11 March 2020.

According to District Environmental Practitioner assigned to Port Health at Lüderitz, Veronica Haludilu, “All passengers on the vessel were screened before they set foot on Namibian soil. None of them had a temperature reading of above 38 °C. Their temperatures were taken before being allowed to proceed to immigration. The vessel later sailed to Walvis Bay where it arrived on 12 March. Since all passengers had already been screened at Lüderitz, no screening was deemed necessary at Walvis Bay.”

Recommendations

Newly elected Walvis Bay urban constituency councillor Knowledge Iipinge also made recommendations about curbing the spread of the coronavirus to the Walvis Bay municipality.

“They should temporarily open the water of all households who currently have no access to water due to outstanding water bills owed to the municipality. Make COVID-19 testing kits readily available to ensure that anyone in Walvis Bay Urban Constituency who thinks they have coronavirus symptoms and want to be tested, is able to do so at no cost.”

Iipinge also called for the setting up of health monitoring checkpoints using thermal monitoring technology at Namport, Namdock, the fishing factories, the roadblock operating at Yanni Savva police station and the Dune 7 road.

“We should minimize contact for shipping agents, immigration officers, health inspectors and stevedorings boarding of vessels to safeguard these individuals with compulsory thermal screening on a regular basis.”

Iipinge also called for the temporary suspension of trading licenses of all liquor outlets. “The business registration licenses of all companies taking advantage of our residents by overcharging for COVID-19 related personal health products should also be revoked,” he suggested.

The Municipality of Walvis Bay embarked on a cleaning and disinfecting exercise targeting areas such as taxi ranks, open markets and the Kuisebmond Old Age Home on Wednesday morning. Other areas that are being prioritised are the Twaloloka informal settlement and the area around Shop4Value in Kuisebmond.

Residents are requested to render their usual support in this regard. Cleaning and disinfecting will also continue as product is available.

‘Commendable cooperation’

Erongo regional commander commissioner Andreas Nelumbu also expressed his gratitude to local traders for closing their operations.

“The recent temporary closure of Ekutu demonstrates commendable cooperation between the communities with the municipality and police in addressing this pandemic.”

Nelumbu reminded shebeen owners as well as liquor outlets that the current situation should speak to their conscience.

“We all have a duty to complement government efforts in promoting health and safety in our communities, which includes their own safety as owners, their workers and the people who visit their places of entertainment. Thus we call on them to exercise collective responsibility.”

Matti Amukwa, chairman of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Association, said that the fishing industry is on alert and will put stringent measures in place to protect the employees at all cost.

“The processing facilities have personal hygiene processes in place and maintain a high standard of health and safety, like wearing protective clothing like gloves and masks.”

Amukwa added that most countries in Europe are making special efforts to ensure the flow of goods, particularly food products, across the borders.

“Our export markets for fish and fish products have placed serious restrictions on the free movement of its citizens; closing schools, universities, restaurants and pubs. This will result in less of our products being consumed in restaurants and schools; meaning less catering products are being sold.

“On the other hand people need to eat and consumer-friendly retail products may increase sales. Whether the drop in catering will be made up in retail sales, remains to be seen. It is difficult at this stage to make exact forecasts.”

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