Coronavirus jitters hit Comrades

2020-03-11 14:30
People running a marathon.

People running a marathon.

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The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) is hoping that the Covid-19 pandemic does not become a serious threat to their June spectacle.

There have been 27 000 entries to this year’s race.

CMA chairperson Cheryl Winn says their preparations for the 90 km down run on June 14 are proceeding as usual, but should the infectious disease become a major issue closer to the race, they will be guided by the relevant authorities in deciding on a possible postponement.

She confirmed on Tuesday that her organisation had received messages of concern from runners and others relating to the coronavirus, but said they hoped that the situation would calm down well before race day.

“We are monitoring the situation and will take guidance from the relevant authorities with regards to the race.

“Our race is 95 days away and we will have to see what happens in that time. At this stage, we are planning as normal, assuming it’s going ahead.”

She said 1 337 international entries have been received from 87 countries, including four from Italy, where the disease has caused sporting postponements as part of a public shutdown.

“It would be a major disappointment for Comrades to be postponed, because runners have been training hard and have incurred expenses in booking hotel rooms and so on.

“Any decision we are forced to take will be with the runners and public in mind. It won’t be done lightly,” she said.

Meanwhile, Transnet National Ports Authority confirmed on Tuesday that passenger vessels calling at the Port of Durban are subject to stringent clearance processes. With the confirmation of seven cases of Covid-19, TNPA has increased its monitoring at commercial seaports.

Staff are also monitoring passengers travelling on Transnet’s Blue Train.

Captain Dennis Mqadi, executive manager for Safety, Health and Evironmental (SHE) and regulatory oversight, said neither container nor passenger ships will be granted a clean bill of health if they have been at sea for fewer than 14 days, as this is the typical incubation and quarantine period of the virus. “Port Health clearance processes and physical checks are more stringent for passenger vessels where passengers may have flown into the country to join local cruise voyages.”

Mqadi said the crew of all foreign vessels wanting to dock in Durban had to provide details of their last 10 ports of call, especially if their vessel has been at sea for fewer than 14 days.

Should an infection be reported, the vessel will be allowed to dock and will then be quarantined.

Asked if Covid-19 had impacted the amount of cargo coming into the Port of Durban, general manager Moshe Motlohi said that, as of the end of February, there had been no negative impact on volumes at the port.

“However, we have noted that there are fewer ships scheduled to call in the coming weeks ...” he added.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  coronavirus

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