Cruise ship chaos as coronavirus fears leave 2,000 people stranded on Holland America

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The measures were taken by Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and the US territory of Guam, who prohibited Holland America’s MS Westerdam cruise ship from docking at their ports amid coronavirus concerns. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that foreign passengers would not be allowed to disembark over coronavirus fears.

However the crew on-board the MS Westerdam insist that no one on board is affected.

“The ship is not in quarantine and there are no known cases of coronavirus on board,” the operator told the Daily Mail.

The MS Westerdamn is hosting 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members.

The cruise ship embarked on a 14-day East Asia cruise which left Hong Kong on February 1 with 687 passengers still on board from a previous voyage.

According to the Mail, one passenger, Bev Thurbin, said the ship had been denied entry to the Philippines and then to Taiwan over virus fears.

The ship then sailed to Japan, where it was due to disembark in Shanghai. However, the cruise operator said this had changed and that passengers would now disembark in Yokohama.

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Cruise ship chaos as coronavirus fears leave 2,000 people stranded on Holland America

Cruise: The MS Westerdam has been blocked from docking in Japan, Guam, Taiwan and the Phillipines (Image: Getty Images)

However, those plans changed after Japan announced it would use immigration laws to block the entry of foreign passengers from the vessel.

In a statement published on their website, Holland America said: “We are quickly working to develop alternate plans and are keeping guests updated on board as information becomes available.

“As well, the latest updates will be posted under the Travel Advisory section on our website as soon as they are known. The next cruise that was scheduled to embark in Yokohama on Feb. 15 has been cancelled. Booked guests and their travel advisors will be notified.

“We are closely monitoring the evolving situation with respect to coronavirus that originated in mainland China and our medical experts are coordinating closely with global health authorities to implement enhanced screening, prevention and control measures for our ships globally.”

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The cruise line highlighted the measures they are implementing, which include pre-boarding medical evaluations, medical screening for coronavirus on all guests who visit their onboard medical centre and additional environmental disinfection on board in addition to their “stringent cleaning and sanitation protocols.”

The Westerdam then faced further problems after the governor of Guam rejected a State Department request to allow the ship to dock there.

“While we feel for every soul on board the MS Westerdam, our obligation is to protect the people of Guam,” Leon Guerrero said. “Though Guam is prepared to deal with the potential implications of the coronavirus, few jurisdictions can screen, quarantine, or treat 1,400 patients at one time.”

This news comes as 42 passengers on board Diamond Princess cruise ship were found to be infected with coronavirus.

Cruise ship chaos as coronavirus fears leave 2,000 people stranded on Holland America

Coronavirus: The virus continues to spread (Image: Express)

The cruise ship is currently under quarantine off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, where it was due to stay for 14 days.

Passengers onboard have been confined to their rooms in a bid to stop the spread of the illness.

However, as a screening process continues more passengers have fallen ill from the virus.

The checks began after an 80-year-old man from Hong Kong became unwell and was diagnosed with the virus.

He boarded the ship from Yokohama on January 20 and disembarked on January 25. Initially, only 10 passengers were found to be suffering from the illness, resulting in officials beginning a screening process.

Of the 3,700 passengers and crew onboard the vessel, an initial 300 guests were screened for the illness. However, now the number of infected onboard has almost quadrupled bringing the number of cases in Japan up to 86. This makes it the country with the second-highest amount of sufferers.

“The results of the remaining 171 tests came out and 41 tested positive,” Japan’s Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said. “Today they will be sent to hospitals in several prefectures, and we are now preparing for that.”

Of those infected, 28 are from Japan, 11 are from the US, seven are from Australia and Canada respectively, and three from China. Meanwhile, nations including the UK, New Zealand, Taiwan, the Philippines and Argentina all have one infected passenger. The remaining passengers on board the cruise ship will remain in quarantine until 18 February.

Express.co.uk has contacted Holland America and Princess Cruises for comment.


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