Two Caribbean ports turn away MSC Meraviglia because of one ill worker

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The MSC Meraviglia was denied entry to the Cayman Islands and Jamaica because of concerns over Covid-19 coronavirus on Tuesday. 

The ship was turned away from Ocho Rios in Jamaica on Tuesday and Grand Cayman on Wednesday because one crew member reported having the common flu known as type A influenza. The ship is carrying 4,500 passengers and about 1,600 crew members. It is on a 14-day cruise around the Caribbean. 

The ship was due to arrive in Cozumel on Wednesday evening, having received approval to dock there from local health authorities in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

The MSC Meraviglia is operated by Miami-based MSC Cruises. 

“MSC Cruises is extremely disappointed that Jamaican authorities yesterday delayed a decision for many hours to give our ship the necessary clearance to disembark guests, despite us having provided detailed medical records to the local health and national authorities ahead of its arrival as per normal protocol,” an MSC Cruises spokesperson said in a written statement. 

The ship also tried to disembark in Georgetown in Grand Cayman. The company said that Grand Cayman authorities made the decision overnight to deny entry “without even reviewing the ship’s medical records.”

The crew member who showed symptoms of the flu had not visited any territories affected by Covid-19 or subject to any international health restrictions. He had traveled to Miami from Manila in the Philippines with a stop in Istanbul.

The crew member is in stable condition and has received anti-viral treatment and medication. He no longer has a fever and has been isolated from other crew members and guests until he fully recovers. 

The MSC Meraviglia has not reported any other cases of type A influenza. No MSC ships have had a coronavirus diagnosis. 

“In both instances, the ship was effectively turned away simply based on fears,” the company said. 

Holland America Line’s Westerdam had been denied entry to four East Asian countries a few weeks ago even though cruise line officials said no one had tested positive for coronavirus.  

The local port health authority in Ocho Rios asked the National Ministry of Health in the Jamaican capital of Kingston for guidance once the MSC ship arrived and reported the crew member’s symptoms. The ship waited four hours at port for clearance before cruise officials decided to head to the next port of call. 

All of the MSC Meraviglia’s guests and crew have been screened upon embarkation, in terms of their travel history and health. The company is using thermal cameras to identify anyone with flu-like symptoms such as a fever.

The company is denying embarkation to crew and guests who have traveled to, from or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau.

They are also denying embarkation to those who during the past 14 days have traveled to, from or through any of the municipalities that are subject to quarantine in central northern Italy.

Covid-19 has spread from China to almost every continent. 

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