Update on the situation ten days after the MFV Edinburgh arrived with asymptomatic COVID-19 cases on board.

Settlement exits Lock-down and MFV Edinburgh reaches Cape Town

Tristan da Cunha crest
Update from Steve Townsend on 30th July 2021

When the MFV Edinburgh arrived in 19th July 2021, a number of positive COVID cases were discovered on the vessel. We subsequently decided, on medical advice, to land those passengers who tested negative and allow the vessel to return to Cape Town without off-loading. As a precaution, the settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas went into lock-down on 20th July 2021 for 10 days, and all social activity was stopped. On 29th July, the doctors re-tested all the passengers who had come ashore, and all tested negative. So the lock-down was lifted on 30th July, and the settlement returned more or less to normal.

The Edinburgh has finally reached Cape Town and completed its period of quarantine outside the harbour. It should be docking today (30th July). A majority of those on the vessel tested positive on arrival, and the most unwell were taken ashore separately earlier in the week.

The incident has been a salutary lesson for the island. It was fortunate that Penny Granger, our visiting dentist who was on the vessel, had lateral flow test kits, and was able to test the passengers and crew, and also to identify how much the coronavirus had spread on the vessel.

We would like to thank the medical staff who continued to work during the lock-down, including home visits where required, Lorraine Repetto and her family for arranging delivery of essential orders from the shop during the period, Martin Green who arranged deliveries of supplies from the Agricultural Shop, and all those who were called out to assist their fellow islanders during the lock-down. Some of the essential work had to continue, and we are grateful to those such as Jerry Green and Jimmy Rogers who continued to look after the island's livestock.

Special thanks must also go to the crew of the barge who went out to bring the four passengers ashore, despite their concerns over the virus: Andrew Green, John Lavarello, Nicky Swain and Adrian Swain. Before the settlement-wide lock-down had been imposed, they were willing to go into isolation to assuage the concerns of the islanders.

There are a number of lessons to be learned from this experience, and the Island Council has already met to discuss this. The lock-down was observed well by the majority of the population, but there were some breaches. The island is also looking again at the COVID isolation protocols for all visitors, and we will update the website once these have been agreed.