The rapidly-spreading deadly coronavirus outbreak has ruined the dream vacations for thousands of sea-faring passengers. A US cruise ship, the Westerdam that set sail for Cambodia, was blocked from several Asian ports over concerns that a passenger may have been infected with the new coronavirus.
The ship started its journey in Hong Kong on February 1 with a plan to take its 1,455 passengers on a dream 14-day cruise around East Asia. The ship was supposed to disembark on Saturday in Yokohama, Japan. The Westerdam’s crew and passengers went through a health screening a the port, and no one has shown any symptoms of the coronavirus. But the ship was turned away from Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand over fears of the novel coronavirus.
However, Holland America, the cruise operator, has insisted there are no cases of the SARS-like virus on board. “All guests onboard are healthy, and despite erroneous reports, there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, nor have there ever been,” it added in a statement. On Wednesday, Cambodia announced that the boat would be able to dock in Sihanoukville, on its southern coast.
On Friday, finally, the ship was allowed to disembark in Cambodia, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomed them with flowers. The deadly outbreak has created an alarm globally by killing more than 1300 people in China. More than 44,600 people have been affected by the coronavirus, said Beijing’s National Health Commission.
Before the ship docked, doctors conducted health checks for the passengers. Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said the samples of the 20 onboard who were sick were sent to the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh to test for the virus. Last week, Japan’s premier Shinzo Abe expressed worries over a possible infection on the Westerdam and said measures would be taken to “reject entries” for foreigners into the country.