Sat | Apr 4, 2020

Cruise ship turned back from ‘Ochi’ over virus fear

Published:Wednesday | February 26, 2020 | 12:24 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer

As countries across the world take steps to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Jamaican health officials on Tuesday denied more than 6,000 people on a cruise ship access to the port of Ocho Rios, as a crew member on board had been placed in isolation on the vessel.

The MSC Meraviglia was on a scheduled trip to Ocho Rios as part of a Caribbean cruise that originated in Miami when health officials were alerted to a crew member being placed in isolation after he developed a cough, fever and associated muscle pains, Jamaica’s Ministry of Health & Wellness said in a release Tuesday afternoon.

The vessel arrived at approximately 8:30 a.m., the ministry said.

The isolated person is believed to have recently visited his native Philippines.

Up to Tuesday, COVID-19 had killed more than 2,700 people, mainly in China, but it was in the Philippines that the first death outside of China took place, after three cases were reported.

When the vessel arrived in Ocho Rios, emergency protocols were activated and and no one was allowed to leave the vessel.

The cruise ship later departed without any confirmation of the health status of the individual.

Jamaica’s Ministry of Health & Wellness has maintained that adequate measures are in place to deal with the coronavirus should it emerge here.

Since COVID-19 was discovered in China in December, the number of persons affected worldwide has topped 80,000.

Outside of China, Italy has the most cases in Europe with nearly 300 people infected.

More than 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew members were on board the MSC cruise line. The vessel’s itinerary includes stops in Grand Cayman, Cozumel in Mexico, and The Bahamas.