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Cruise ship company criticised for going ahead with trip amid COVID-19 outbreak

The luxury cruise ship sailed from the Durban harbour to Mozambique’s islands on Monday.

The 'MSC Orchestra' at anchor in the Durban harbour on 20 March 2020. Picture: Nkosikhona Duma/EWN

DURBAN - Some of the passengers who have disembarked from the MSC Orchestra in Durban have criticised the international leisure company for going ahead with the trip despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ban on non-essential travel.

The luxury cruise ship sailed from the Durban harbour to Mozambique’s islands on Monday.

It arrived back in Durban in the early hours of Friday morning with a total of 2,408 passengers who have all been screened for the coronavirus.

South African Maritime Safety Authority acting CEO Sobantu Tilayi said all the necessary safety precautions had been taken.

"Passengers were disembarked in batches of 100 and each passenger is screened individually, the cargo for every passenger gets disinfected."

Esmare Marais, who travelled on the ship, said that authorities did their best to ensure the safety of passengers.

But she was unhappy that the trip proceeded given the outbreak of the coronavirus.

"To be quite honest, I think they should have called it off at the last minute and offered us a full refund."

Tilayi said they had taken measures to ensure that the passengers are traceable in the event of an outbreak.

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.