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Passengers onboard Westerdam will be tested for Coronavirus

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The cruise liner Westerdam docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Nov 24, 2015. Master0Garfield, wiki commons

Some passengers onboard the almost marooned Westerdam cruise vessel will be given a thorough medical check, have their blood drawn and quarantined at Sihaoukville this morning.

Ministry of Health sources told Khmer Times that blood and other samples from the passengers will be taken and any passengers reported to be ill will be given a thorough check up.

“Before the test results are out, none of the passengers and crew, totaling 2,257 will be allowed to leave for the airport or beyond the confines of the port and the vessel.

“The passengers will need to fly out and for that to happen, flights have to be arranged. In all likelihood, the passengers will be Sihanoukville under observation while the logistics to fly them out are sorted out and concluded.

“Now, we have no reason to conclude that any of them have been infected. Our decision is one on humanitarian grounds as the passengers and crew have gone through a harrowing experience at sea, being turned away from port to port before being allowed to dock at Sihanoukville,” the sources said.

In February 2020, the cruise ship, departing after a stop in Hong Kong on 1 February, was denied to call in the Philippines, Japan, and Guam over concerns regarding coronavirus 2019-nCoV.

Starting Thursday morning, the Westerdam will spend a few days at the port in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Guests will be able to go ashore and take charter flights to the capital city of Phnom Penh, where they can fly home from, after they have been tested and cleared.

After initially receiving approval on 10 February to let the passengers disembark in Thailand, as the ship was heading to Laem Chabang port near Bangkok, permission to dock was refused the next day. However, the ship is still maintaining its course to Bangkok.

The MS Westerdam sailed around the southern tip of Vietnam and as of 11 February, the ship was still searching for a country that would allow it to dock, having been out at sea for 8 days., until Cambodia came to her rescue.

The ship operated by Carnival Corp.’s Holland America Line could have been forced to wait until it’s in distress — running out of water, food or fuel — before international law-of-the-sea conventions kick in and legally obligate the closest country to admit the vessel or provide help, according to maritime experts.

It is unknown whether it was reaching such a stage to declare a distress.

According to Flip Knibbe, a Dutch passenger on the ship, all the passengers have had their temperatures checked a second time. Speaking to NOS on the 11th of February, Knibbe said “Dit schip is virusvrij”: ‘This ship is virus free’.

Unlike the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is located in the port of Yokohama in Japan, those on board are not in quarantine. Everyone can move freely, shops and restaurants are open and the entertainment program continues.

MS Westerdam is a Vista Class cruise ship owned by Holland America Line. She is the third ship of the class to be operated by the line, as well as being the third ship to bear the name Westerdam. Her sister ships are MS Oosterdam, MS Zuiderdam, and MS Noordam. The prefixes of the four ships’ names represent the four directions of the compass in Dutch. Wikipedia/KT

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