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ARGENTINA | 01-12-2021 15:38

Authorities in Argentina order isolation of cruise ship amid Omicron fears

Authorities in Argentina order immediate isolation of a cruise ship arriving in Buenos Aires from Cape Verde, after a case of coronavirus was detected onboard.

Authorities in Argentina have ordered the immediate isolation of a cruise ship arriving from Cape Verde, including all its crew and passengers, after a case of coronavirus was detected onboard.

The Health Ministry said the "precautionary measure" was informed by its efforts to prevent and delay the arrival of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. 

The Bahamas-flagged MS Hamburg vessel arrived to the port of Buenos Aires on Friday with 170 passengers and 156 crew onboard. It is now at sea off Bahía de Samborombón, some 280 kilometres south of the capital off the coast of Buenos Aires Province.

Puerto Madryn Mayor Gustavo Sastre said Wednesday that he would not allow the ship to moor in the his city, though he said he would provide supplies of healthcare to the vessel if needed. 

Argentina's Health Ministry said in a statement that "Cape Verde is more than 600 kilometres off the African continent, and the epidemiological situation in the country is favourable, with a weekly average of five new cases of Covid-19."

It specified that the isolation order had been adopted "without prejudice to this, in view of the risk generated by the new Omicron variant (which is of global concern) and as a precautionary measure."

The infected individual is a health-worker, according to reports.  affected is a health crew member and the person in question "did not get off the boat at any time," the Health Ministry said.

The quarantine order will remain in place while epidemiological investigations into the case are carried out.

The woman has "non-specific symptoms," according to the government's statement. 

The vessel has not been allowed to dock at any other Argentine port.

PCR tests on the rest of the passengers and crew in Buenos Aires on Saturday all came back negative. The cruise ship's next destination is Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina.

According to the Health Ministry, the shipping agency reported that "in the port of Buenos Aires 152 new passengers embarked and 37 passengers disembarked who were bound for Ezeiza for international connections."

No cases of the Omicron variant have been reported in Argentina so far.

The nation has recorded more than 5.3 million cases of Covid-19, with 116,589 deaths, from a country of 45 million inhabitants.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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