Tue, Feb 11, 2020 - Page 3 News List

Virus Outbreak: Cruise ship allowed to dock at Port of Keelung

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The SuperStar Aquarius cruise ship sails into the Port of Keelung yesterday.

Photo courtesy of JPwalker

The SuperStar Aquarius cruise ship yesterday returned to the Port of Keelung after the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) on Saturday confirmed that its passengers and crew members were not infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus.

The international cruise ship had docked at the port on Saturday, when disease control officers boarded the ship to conduct inspections.

None of the ship’s 1,738 passengers and 776 crew members were found to have contracted the virus, which has so far killed more than 800 people in China, CDC officials said.

All passengers were allowed to disembark after the inspection, which lasted almost nine hours, while the crew members were asked to remain on board. The ship was on Sunday asked to temporarily leave the port according to government regulations.

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) then convened a meeting to discuss if and how the ship should be allowed to return to port, said One for All Public Relations Consultants, which represents the cruise line in Taiwan.

It was decided that the cruise ship should dock in a “non-operative mode,” meaning that its operator must not allow Taiwanese passengers to embark during the port stay, the company said.

However, the operator is allowed to replenish supplies and alternate crew members, it added.

“We have been paying close attention to the latest developments on the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak and are doing everything we can to comply with the government’s disease-prevention policy and inspection measures to block further spread of the disease. We would also regularly disinfect the ship, take the temperatures of our crew members and ensure that they wear masks,” the company said.

Taiwan International Ports Corp executive vice president Wang Pai-feng (王派峰) said that the ship is docked at the No. 4 pier on the west side of the port.

The SuperStar Aquarius has been using Keelung as its home port, which is why nearly all of the passengers on board were Taiwanese, Wang said.

However, the crew members come from nearly two dozen nations, including the Philippines, China, Nepal, Indonesia and India, he said.

All Chinese crew members, as well as those who have traveled to China, Hong Kong or Macau over the past two weeks, are banned from disembarking, according to CECC policy.

The port company would make sure that the alternation of the ship’s crew would be carried out in accordance with the center’s instructions, Wang said.

If there is no further instruction from the center on the matter, it would follow standard customs inspection, quarantine and security procedures, he said.

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