Ships divert to avoid calling South Africa

Ships have diverted to avoid South Africa in the days since the omicron variant of Covid-19 was first reported.

Exclusive data from MarineTraffic shows nine ships have changed their destination from a South African port to somewhere else since November 29.

Vessels seeking supplies or crew changes in southern Africa have been making contingency plans to call elsewhere as the new strain of the virus, first detected in Botswana and thought to be far more contagious than earlier variants, has spooked many.

Splash reported last week on how the omicron strain of Covid-19 is causing havoc to crew change operations.

“We are expecting longer quarantine period, tighter testing regime and restrictions for vessels coming from South Africa and neighbouring countries,” warned Carl Schou, president and CEO of Wilhelmsen Ship Management, with a host of managers already reporting crew change cancellations in South Africa.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, shared on Friday his fears that unless coordinated action is taken by world leaders there could be a return to the peak of the crew change crisis in 2020 where more than 400,000 seafarers were impacted by harsh travel restrictions.

Source: MarineTraffic

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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