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German cruise ship passengers set for evacuation from CT

The Transport Department said that the aircraft crew would not be allowed to disembark the plane but would await the arrival of the German nationals, who would be escorted from the AIDAmira cruise ship and onto the plane.

Passengers onboard the AidaMira, which is in quarantine in Cape Town over possible coronavirus cases. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The German government plans to evacuate more than 1,200 citizens onboard the AIDAmira cruise ship in Cape Town.

According to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, the German government has dispatched four chartered aircraft for the evacuation mission.

The passengers were kept on the ship after it was found that six passengers had been in contact with two crew members of a cargo vessel, one of whom had shown COVID-19 symptoms.

The Transport Department said that the aircraft crew would not be allowed to disembark the plane but would await the arrival of German nationals, who would be escorted from the AIDAmira and onto the plane.

However, no timelines were confirmed.

The department said the planes’ permit numbers had already been issued.

Spokesperson Ayanda Paine: "These aircraft have no inbound passengers at all only crew on-board and that's for the evacuation mission. The crew will not be permitted to disembark the plane."

The cruise ship has more than 1,700 passengers and crew have not been able to disembark since Monday.

This is after six of the passengers had came into contact with a crew member who was on a cargo ship called MV Corona showed symptoms of the coronavirus.

Passengers and the crew members' tests came back negative.

Meanwhile, a second cruise ship, the Norwegian Spirit has docked in Cape Town.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority said that prior to regulations being promulgated, the vessel had planned to call at the port.

Regulations came into effect on Wednesday, this means that restricting the movement of people and crew does not not apply to this ship.

SAMSA said that in light of the regulations, as well as real risk of contamination posed by these vessels, passengers would be screened for any signs that warranted further investigation.

And, they are required to leave the country via the quickest possible means.

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