Fri, Feb 14, 2020 - Page 4 News List

Virus Outbreak: Pariah cruise ship docks in Cambodia


Passengers are silhouetted on the top deck of Westerdam cruise ship as it arrives at port in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, yesterday evening.

Photo: Reuters

A cruise ship turned away by other Asian and Pacific governments due to virus fears finally docked yesterday in Cambodia, which is checking the health of the 2,200 passengers and crew.

The Westerdam was unwelcome elsewhere even though operator Holland America Line said no cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among the 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members on board.

The ship had spent most of the day anchored 1km from the main Sihanoukville port in the Gulf of Thailand, as a team of health officials conducted checks and determined the disembarkation process, Preah Sihanouk Province Governor Kouch Chamrouen said.

About 20 passengers have reported stomachaches or fever, Cambodian health officials said.

The ship’s health staff considered them to be normal illnesses, but the ill passengers were being isolated from others, Cambodian Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said.

If tests show any passengers have the disease, they would be allowed to get treatment in the country, she said.

Kuoch Chamrouen had said that once the health officials onboard were done checking the passengers, the Westerdam would be allowed to dock at the main port.

“[Holland America] have asked to delay docking until tomorrow because they could not arrange for planes [from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh],” he said.

About 500 passengers are scheduled to disembark.

US Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy said he sent an embassy team to work with the ship’s representatives and Cambodian officials to help Americans disembark and transfer to their onward destinations.

“We have also coordinated with foreign embassies of other nationalities,” he wrote on Twitter.

Thailand refused to allow the Westerdam to dock this week after it had already been turned away by Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan and Guam.

Cambodia agreed on Wednesday to allow the ship in and its request to remain in Cambodia was approved through Monday next week.

The Westerdam began its cruise in Singapore last month and its last stop before it was refused further landings was in Hong Kong.

Cambodia has confirmed just one case of the virus, in a Chinese visitor.

Additional reporting by AFP

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