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Antigua bars cruise ship from docking

Published:Tuesday | February 4, 2020 | 9:58 AM

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda has become the latest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to prevent the cruise ship, AIDAPerla, with more than 3,000 passengers on board, from docking on Tuesday.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment said that officials had reviewed the Maritime Health Declaration submitted on February 3 “and discovered that it was insufficient to make a proper assessment of the health situation on the vessel.

“As a result, additional crucial information was requested, but not provided in a timely manner. Consequently, the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and the Environment was not able to support a decision to allow the ship to berth and recommended the cancellation of its call at the St John’s Harbour,” the spokesperson said.

“The Government has, therefore, made the decision to disallow the ship to make its scheduled call …on Tuesday, February 4th, 2020”.

Health authorities in St Lucia and Dominica, in denying the ship entry, said that some passengers were experiencing respiratory tract infections, even while denying reports that there may have been cases of the deadly coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has killed more than 300 people in China and which the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency.

But St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on a radio programme, defended the decision to allow the vessel, built in 2017 and sailing under the flag of Italy, to enter the Kingstown harbour.

“We have to act sensibly with the protocols and don’t panic,” he said, adding that onboard the cruise ship “there were 23, I think 23 persons, who had some kind of a virus.

“But they were isolated on the ship. They were crew members and some passengers,” Gonsalves said, adding that the “Port Authority simply contacted, as we will do always, the public health, the chief medical officer, medical officer of health, all the entities involved and dealt with that problem so that you allow those who wanted to come off [and] could come off but those who had to be isolated were isolated on the ship.

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