Authorities ready to handle cruise ship visit
A cruise ship at the centre of a scare over a killer strain of coronavirus is to arrive in Bermuda on Wednesday, it was revealed yesterday.
Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas had four passengers taken to hospital amid fears they might have the virus after the ship returned to its home port in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Friday. Tests later showed none had the virus. The Ministry of Health and port authorities said they are prepared for the ship’s visit.
The ship, scheduled to leave the island on Thursday, was rerouted to Bermuda from its intended destination in the Bahamas because of its delayed departure from New Jersey.
A health ministry spokeswoman said: “To further ensure the safety of Bermuda, health and port authorities will apply our own protocols currently in place at all of Bermuda’s points of entry.
“This work includes close collaboration with the Department of Customs, immigration and Skyport to enhance screening of arriving travellers and direct those with a travel history risk for further monitoring and assessment.
“Arriving travellers will undergo a travel risk assessment by a health officer and could have their health monitored and movement on island restricted for up to 14 days.”
She added the Government had put a restriction on direct flights from China by private and corporate jets.
The spokeswoman said: “Any visitors that have spent any time in mainland China in the last 14 days are discouraged from travelling to Bermuda and will be subject to risk assessment and necessary monitoring and restrictions.”
She added: “Residents should be assured that health and port authorities are prepared and equipped to deal with the vessel, in accordance with our established protocols.
“Royal Caribbean has enacted their own stringent protocols with regards to the screening of passengers prior to boarding.”
The cruise line said last Friday: “None of the four guests showed any clinical signs or symptoms of coronavirus while they were on board our ship.
“One had tested positive on board for influenza A. Our records indicate the guests had not been in China since January 26 — 14 days ago.”
Royal Caribbean added that other passengers had been allowed to disembark as usual, but that the ship had delayed its departure for one day so the cruise line could get “conclusive test results from the US Centres for Disease Control”.
Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said: “Bermuda benefits from the Anthem’s change of plans, as the ship’s delayed departure from New Jersey, after crew and passengers were cleared by the US Centres for Disease Control, has prompted the cruise line to switch ports and choose the Royal Naval Dockyard for its stopover this week.”
He added the island welcomed the passengers and that “Bermuda offers a fantastic alternative to their previous itinerary”.
Mr Dallas said: “We also encourage cruise business stakeholders to take advantage of this additional winter ship call to extend their excursions and services.”
The new strain of coronavirus, which emerged in China, has infected tens of thousands of people in the country. But 270 cases have also been recorded in another 24 nations.
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