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New Covid-19 case detected aboard controversial Hamburg cruise ship

Wednesday, December 1st 2021 - 09:00 UTC
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Argentina's Health Ministry insisted there was nothing wrong when the Hamburg docked in Buenos Aires Argentina's Health Ministry insisted there was nothing wrong when the Hamburg docked in Buenos Aires

Argentina's Health Ministry Tuesday ordered everyone on board the cruise ship Hamburg must remain under quarantine after a new case of COVID-19 has been detected.

The Ministry reported that a crew member from Hamburg whose PCR test had come out negative Saturday, Nov. 27, had yielded a positive result in the antigen test performed 48 hours later, Nov. 29.

According to the ship's captain, the case presented nonspecific symptoms and was isolated on November 28, the antigen test was then performed on Nov. 29 and the results were reported Tuesday.

Once the result was notified, the epidemiological investigation was launched “taking into account the information provided by the ship through the Shipping Agency that represents it,” the Argentine authorities said.

“The person in question at no time got off the boat during the ship's stay in Buenos Aires and, both the case and their contacts were being identified, are isolated from the rest of the crew and passengers,” it was reported.

“In addition, a PCR test is being arranged on the patient for subsequent genomic sequencing and it was arranged that all the crew and passengers of the ship which is currently at sea near the Samborombón Bay, remain isolated on board and, once the result is obtained and the epidemiological investigation is completed, the following steps will be defined,” the Argentine Government's statement went on.

According to Hamburg's shipping agency, 152 new passengers boarded at the port of Buenos Aires and 37 passengers disembarked and went to the Ezeiza international airport to catch outbound flights.

The Ministry also pointed out that as per the regulations currently in force, the “detection of five transmission chains is considered an outbreak.” Hence, and “taking into account the international epidemiological context, the national authorities and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires agreed to carry out an extraordinary evaluation and the PCR tests were carried out, confirming that the previous decision was adequate [to allow passengers to disembark in Buenos Aires] and the appearance of a new confirmed case does not modify at all the risk assessment previously described.”

The Ministry's statement also clarifies that “the island of Cape Verde is more than 600 kilometres from the African continent, and that the epidemiological situation in that country is favorable, with a weekly average of five new cases of Covid-19 per day.”

The ship had been allowed to dock in Buenos Aires when the inspector in charge of the epidemiological assessment found no reason to give it a special treatment since -she claimed- the ship stemmed “from Asia” while the alert had been issued on vessels coming “from Africa” to which Cape Verde actually belongs.

The Hamburg, which can accommodate over 400 passengers and regularly performs Mediterranean and Atlantic cruises, had entered the port of Buenos Aires last Friday. The ship was due to arrive at Puerto Madryn in the Argentine province of Chubut next Thursday after calling off stopovers at Montevideo and Mar del Plata.

Puerto Madryn Mayor Ricardo Sastre has asked federal authorities to ban the vessel from docking there and remain at sea.

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