Thailand bans cruise disembarkation over coronavirus risk

Bangkok, Feb 11 (IANS) A cruise ship carrying thousands of people will not be allowed to disembark in Thailand over fears of travellers infected with the novel coronavirus, the countrys Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Tuesday.

In a Facebook post, the Minister said that the Westerdam cruise ship’s 2,257 people will not be allowed to leave the vessel once it docks in Thailand, reports Efe news.

The vessel, operated by shipping company Holland America Line, announced that it would dock on Thursday in the coastal city of Laem Chabang, about 125 km southeast of Bangkok.

“Westerdam is sailing for Laem Chabang, Thailand, where the current cruise that departed February 1 will end on Thursday,” Holland America Line had said in a statement on Monday, adding that guests would be transferred to Bangkok for their return home after disembarking the vessel.

The ship had previously been denied entry into Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and the US island territory of Guam.

The Westerdam is carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members, who departed from Hong Kong on the first day and planned to arrive on Saturday in Yokohama, Japan.

Thai health authorities have confirmed the infection of 32 people in the country, of which at least 10 have already been discharged.

In China, where the outbreak’s origin is linked to a fish market in Wuhan, Hubei province, the National Health Commission on Tuesday raised the number of deaths to 1,016 and the number of infected people to 42,638.

To date, all but two deaths – in the Philippines and Hong Kong – have occurred in mainland China and, although about 20 countries have identified cases. China accounts for about 99 per cent of those infected.

–IANS
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