Ship Rejected by 5 Countries Anchors Off Cambodia

Passengers will be allowed to disembark after health checks
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2020 12:32 AM CST
Ship Rejected by 5 Countries Anchors Off Cambodia
The MS Westerdam, owned by Holland America Line, sails off a port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020.   (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

(Newser) – A cruise ship turned away by other Asian and Pacific governments due to virus fears anchored Thursday off Cambodia, which is checking the health of its 2,200 passengers and crew. The Westerdam was unwelcome elsewhere even though operator Holland America Line said no cases of the COVID-19 viral illness have been confirmed among the 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members on board. The ship is anchored just over half a mile from the main Sihanoukville port in the Gulf of Thailand and a team of health officials will conduct checks and determine the disembarkation process, Preah Sihanouk province Gov. Kouch Chamrouen told the AP. Thailand refused to allow the Westerdam to dock this week after it had already been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and Guam.

Some 20 passengers have reported stomachaches or fever, Cambodian health officials say. The ship's health staff considered them to be normal illnesses, but the ill passengers are being isolated from others and a military helicopter is on standby to carry samples from passengers to the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh for analysis, Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine says. She says if tests show any passengers have the disease, they'll be allowed to get treatment in the country. Once health checks are completed, passengers will be allowed to disembark. The Westerdam began its cruise in Singapore last month and its last stop before it was refused further landings was in Hong Kong, where 50 cases of the viral disease have been confirmed.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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