Four countries have turned away a cruise ship carrying more than 2,000 people over coronavirus fears — even though the crew insists no one on board is infected, according to new reports.
Holland America’s MS Westerdam ship has been prohibited from docking in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and the US territory of Guam, The Daily Mail reported.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that foreign passengers would not be allowed to disembark, due to suspected coronavirus patients on board.
But Holland America said that is not the case.
“The ship is not in quarantine and there are no known cases of coronavirus on board,” the operator told the Mail.
The 14-day East Asia cruise left Hong Kong on Feb. 1, with 687 passengers still on board from a previous voyage, according to the Mail and USA Today.
The ship is hosting 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members — a total of 2,257 people.
Now Holland America is scrambling to come up with alternate plans for the remainder of the cruise, which already switched its disembarkation point from Shanghai, China to Yokohama, USA Today reported.
Holland America also said that it has canceled the next cruise that was scheduled to embark in Yokohama on Feb. 15 and that it will notify guests and travel agents.
Earlier, the ship’s itinerary was thwarted by the Philippines’ temporary ban on travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau, News.com.au reported.
President Rodrigo Duterte made the decision after the first coronavirus death outside China happened in the Philippines, according to the report.
“This is obviously a rapidly-evolving situation and we were also surprised by the decision from local authorities that we would not be able to call in Manila as had been previously confirmed,” a Holland America spokesperson told the outlet. “This decision does not only apply to Holland America Line and we are continuing to work to provide the best experience we can for our guests in these unusual and rapidly evolving circumstances.”
Japan has reported 86 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Thursday, according to USA Today. Including the one death, the Philippines has two.
Each of the countries on the Westerdam’s itinerary has had confirmed coronavirus cases — Hong Kong has reported 24 cases and one death. Twenty-five cases were reported in Thailand, 16 in Taiwan and 10 in Vietnam. In South Korea, which the ship has yet to visit, 23 cases have been confirmed. One case has been reported in Cambodia.
Meanwhile, Japan has quarantined an entire cruise ship — the Diamond Princess, run by Carnival Japan Inc. — after a Hong Kong man who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the virus.
Sixty-one people on that cruise liner have tested positive for coronavirus, Japan’s health minister Katsunobu Kato said Friday, according to multiple reports.