Mkhize confirms testing of India Covid variant, cases at SA ports treated as matter of urgency

Mkhize confirms testing of India Covid variant, cases at SA ports treated as matter of urgency

Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize says the emergence of Covid-19 cases at ports of entry are of deep concern to government, adding that the situation is being handled with urgency.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize - AFP

He has confirmed that the Health Department is testing the positive Covid-19 samples of three people who flew in from India to Durban in recent weeks.

In a statement released last night, the department says the travellers flew in on two separate occasions from India, via Doha and through King Shaka International Airport. 

READ: Positive COVID-19 cases on ship that arrived in Durban from India

It is testing for the B.1.617 variant, which was first detected in India. The Covid-19 hit country has been battling a surge of infections and deaths with its healthcare system under immense pressure.

The first passenger remains in isolation at a health care facility in KZN, while the other two are currently asymptomatic and are at paid lodgings.

National Ports Authority, Transnet says tracking and tracing are underway after crew members tested positive for Covid-19, on a ship that arrived from India at the Port of Durban.

The vessel is currently under lockdown after the authority confirmed that 14 crew members tested positive for the virus.

It emerged after the Chief Engineer of the bulk carrier, which arrived in Durban on Sunday, died of a heart attack.

The ship has Filipino crew on board - and was on a 17-day direct sail from India to Durban.

Officials say upon arrival at the Port of Durban, the crew were all tested.

The authority has since confirmed that a team has been assigned from Port Health to go onboard and monitor the situation.

A similar situation is also playing out at Gqebera port.

The Eastern Cape Health Department says it's busy with contact tracing after several crew members from ships in the port tested positive for the virus.

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