Woman let off Westerdam cruise ship tests positive for coronavirus

Authorities are attempting to locate people who disembarked the MS Westerdam cruise ship after an American passenger was stopped in Malaysia Saturday and later tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Holland America cruise line had previously said none of its 1,454 passengers or 802 crew had reported any symptoms and they were cleared to travel by Cambodian authorities when the ship docked on Thursday.

Hundreds of passengers had traveled to destinations around the world after being determined free of the virus.

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“At this time, no other guests or crew, either on board or on their way home, have reported any symptoms of the illness. Guests who have already returned home will be contacted by their local health department and be provided further information,” a statement from the cruise line said.

Locals come down to view the Westerdam cruise ship, owned by Holland America Line, docked at the port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. The Westerdam, turned away by four Asian and Pacific governments due to virus fears, anchored Thursday off Cambodia for health checks on its 2,200 passengers and crew. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

The guest was taken to the hospital and is in stable condition. His traveling partner tested negative for the COVID-19.

“We are in close coordination with some of the leading health experts from around the world,” said Dr. Grant Tarling, Chief Medical Officer for Holland America Line. “These experts are working with the appropriate national health authorities to investigate and follow-up with individuals who may have come in contact with the guest.”

The ship was stranded at sea for nearly two weeks after being denied port in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, and the U.S. territory of Guam.

Thailand had said Tuesday that it would not allow the MS Westerdam to dock at a Thai port after it had already been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. Cambodia will allow passengers to disembark there. 

Thailand had said Tuesday that it would not allow the MS Westerdam to dock at a Thai port after it had already been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. Cambodia will allow passengers to disembark there. 
(AP)

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When it was attempting to find a port last week, Holland America said there was no reason to believe there were any cases of coronavirus on the vessel, which they also confirmed was not under quarantine.

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The Westerdam remains in Cambodia with 747 crewmembers and 233 guests who are still awaiting final travel arrangements, the cruise line said. As a precaution, Holland America Line decided to cancel its scheduled Feb. 29 cruise.

“Holland America Line has been closely monitoring the very fluid and evolving situation with respect to the new Covid-19 that originated in mainland China,” the cruise line said on Sunday. “The difficult decision to cancel this cruise comes after carefully considering the highly dynamic and unpredictable changes seen the past couple of weeks in travel restrictions and port operations that could affect the cruise.”