Outbreak of the covid-19 Delta variant and possible non-adherence to pandemic protection measures, on a cargo ship, in the State of Amapá, North Coast of Brazil, July-September 2021

  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Vaccine preventable diseases
  • Occupational and environmental health
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In July 2021, a cargo ship that originated in Tema, Ghana, arrived in Amapá, northern Brazil. The ship was quarantined for 33 days until it was released to dock at the Brazilian port. There were symptomatic crewmembers on board and some of them were confirmed for covid-19 Delta variant. The circulation of this variant had not yet been recorded in the territory of Amapá. The objective of the study was to investigate the first imported cases of covid-19 Delta variant in Amapá, coming from the cargo ship and to propose recommendations.
Descriptive case series study, collecting clinical, sociodemographic and exposure/habit information in a semistructured online questionnaire with written consent, from July to September of 2021. Samples were also collected from crew members every seven days to RT-PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2.
Of the 21 crewmembers, 19 (90.5%) were detectable for SARS-CoV-2, five samples sequenced for Delta, one crewmember hospitalized and no deaths occurred. Nine (42.9%) crewmembers were between 20 and 29 years old, 17 (80.9%) had symptoms of covid-19 while traveling and none of them were vaccinated against covid-19. Before the first covid-19 case confirmation on board, 21 (100%) crew members were eating in the common cafeteria and five (23.8) of them reported having parties inside the ship. After the first symptoms were identified, 17 (81%) started to eat in their personal cabin and 1 (4.8%) crewmember reported that the gatherings continued.
The SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant infection in the ship’s crewmambers may have been influenced by the nonadherence to restrictive measures on board. It was recommended to immediately isolate symptomatic crewmembers until the medical support team arrives, and to cargo ships that transit in international waters follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization for the covid-19 pandemic, in order to avoid viral spread in different territories.

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