A cruise ship which was denied entry to a port in the Dominican Republic over coronavirus fears has been granted a turnaround call in St Marteen. The Fred. Olsen Braemar ship reported that eight guests on board were displaying “flu-like symptoms” and were under medical observation, causing concerns amongst Dominican officials about the ship entering its waters.
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Of the eight passengers displaying symptoms on board, two of them are British Citizens, four are Filipinos and two are from the U.S.
The ship was due to disembark passengers in the Dominican Republic after a 14-day ‘Western Caribbean & Central America’ fly-cruise, but they will now be disembarked in St Maarten where the cruise line is working to secure onward travel for them to return home.
Guests due to board the ship on the next leg of its cruise will be flown in by aeroplane, and are to be met by a team member form Fred. Olsen’s UK Head Office.
A statement issued on Fred. Olsen’s website reads: “We believe that the refusal for us to commence debarkation operations in the Port of La Romana was the result of a very small number of influenza-like cases on board. Our medical team has confirmed that they are all feeling better.
“No guests or crew are, or have been, displaying symptoms that are considered to be consistent with those of Coronavirus.
“The safety and well-being of all our guests and crew is our number one priority and we are monitoring closely the developing COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus situation and taking the latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and World Health Organisation, as well as Public Health England and CLIA.
“As a precautionary measure, for some time Fred. Olsen has been operating a raised level of sanitisation across its fleet, in addition to health questionnaires and non-invasive screening measures for guests embarking and re-joining the ship from overland tours, and for ship visitors.
“Fred. Olsen’s cruise ships meet, at all times, the highest safety, hygiene and health standards.”
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The alarm was raised after a joint statement by the Public Health Ministry and Port Authority reported that the ship’s captain had alerted authorities to passengers displaying COVID-19 illness symptoms including high temperatures, coughing and difficulty breathing.
The ship was then forced to wait out at sea, carrying 1,128 passengers and 384 crew members, until it received further instructions from onshore officials.
The cruise line issued a statement on February 27 saying: “It is our opinion that this is an overreaction by the Dominican Republic, and is not the reception that we have received at previous ports on this itinerary.”
Fred. Olsen also assured that it was keeping guests on board up-to-date throughout discussions.
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Elsewhere, passengers on board an MSC cruise ship were turned away from ports in Grand Cayman and Jamaica before being allowed to dock.
MSC Meraviglia docked at Cozumel on Thursday.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he felt the country should act with “humanity” and allowed the passengers to disembark.
However, two passengers on board who had been showing symptoms of coronavirus were not allowed to leave the ship until they received the all-clear from medical officials.
Concerns surrounding the spread of coronavirus on board cruise ships as heightened in recent weeks, following the quarantine of the Diamond Princess ship off the coast of Japan.
After a number of passengers reported symptoms of the illness the ship was placed into lockdown off the port of Yokohama.
Hundreds of people on board then contracted the virus, and since then there have been six deaths.
The most recent of the fatalities was a British man.
Coronavirus has now made its way to over 50 countries worldwide, after spreading from Wuhan, China.
So far there are over 87,000 confirmed cases across the globe.
The number of infected has risen to 35 in the UK at the time of writing.
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