Dominican Republic turns back cruise ship amid virus fears

Dominican Republic turns back cruise ship amid virus fears

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — A cruise ship heading to the Dominican Republic to disembark hundreds of passengers after a 14-day tour was turned away on Thursday because officials feared eight of those aboard showed potential symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, officials announced.

A joint statement by the Public Health Ministry and Port Authority said that the captain of the Braemar reported four Filipinos, two British citizens and two U.S. citizens were under medical observation for symptoms such as fever, coughing, or breathing difficulty.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said in an emailed statement that it had reported “a small number of influenza-like cases on board. Our medical team has now advised that they are all feeling better. No guests or crew are, or have been, displaying symptoms that are considered to be consistent with those of Coronavirus. ”

Officials said the ship was carrying 1,128 passengers and 384 crew members and the cruise line said it was “in discussions with the Dominican Ministry of Health and are awaiting advice on the next steps.”

The cruise line’s website shows the ship was due to pick up another load of passengers and set off on a new cruise Thursday night.

Public Health Minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas said the ship already had been barred by another port, which he did not specify.

Meanwhile, passengers on another vessel at the Mexican island of Cozumel faced yet another day in which they weren’t allowed to get off the ship, after they had been previously turned away from two ports.

The MSC Meraviglia, turned away by two nations due to fears of the virus outbreak, docked at Cozumel on Thursday and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said passengers would be allowed to disembark.

López Obrador said Mexico had to act with “humanity”after the ship was refused entry at ports in Grand Cayman and Jamaica.

But Alejandra Aguirre, the health secretary of the coastal state of Quintana Roo, said two people had been detected with acute respiratory infections not believed to be the coronavirus and that other passengers wouldn’t be allowed off until tests on those two came back later Thursday.

The two were identified as a 27-year-old male crew member from the Philippines and a 30-year-old female passenger from France.

MSC said in a statement that the two passengers were now symptom-free and the ship would remain in Cozumel. Assuming clearance to disembark is given, passengers would be free to tour Cozumel through the end of Friday.

The cruise line had expressed frustration with the rejections, which came after it reported the crew member was sick with common seasonal flu.

“The ship is being allowed to dock and the passengers, those who are aboard the cruise ship, can disembark,” López Obrador said, adding that health inspections will be carried out.

“We cannot act with discrimination,” he said. “Imagine if a ship arrived and it wasn’t even allowed to dock, and they were told, ‘Keep going on your way, see where you can dock.’ That is inhuman.”

He added “we cannot close our ports, nor can we close our airports.”

“Imagine the desperation and everything it implies, almost 5,000 people on a ship and they cannot get off,” he said. “Why such backward attitudes?”

The case of the Meraviglia illustrated the crisis of nerves over the COVID-19 virus. Mexico has no confirmed cases and MSC Cruises said the crew member had only common seasonal flu, had been placed in isolation and had “nearly recovered.”

Local media showed a small knot of Cozumel residents near the cruise ship dock demanding that passengers not be allowed to disembark, citing fears about potential contagion or effects on the tourism-dependent economy.

Just minutes after López Obrador spoke Thursday, the governor of the Quintana Roo state, where Cozumel is located, confirmed the ship had docked, but said “no authorization has been given” yet for passengers to disembark.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press file photo)
Police seeks suspects in Bowden armed robbery

Man was beaten and robbed of his wallet

Red Deer RCMP say Alexander King was last seen about a month ago. (Contributed)
Red Deer teen reported missing

RCMP ask for public’s assistance

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says it’s not appropriate for former… Continue reading

More back-alley murals, such as this one behind Can-West Travel, will be painted this summer before the City of Red Deer holds it Meet the Street arts and culture festival in September. (Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer seeks more mural artists

Creating 10 more back-alley murals is the goal

Teachers with Centre-Nord School Division are holding a strike vote on Jan. 25 and 26. (Photo from Facebook)
Central Alberta teachers hold strike vote

Francophone teachers to cast votes

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP officer in Alberta charged with off-duty sexual assault in Edmonton

EDMONTON — Alberta’s police watchdog says an RCMP officer has been charged… Continue reading

Canada’s 29th Governor General Julie Payette looks on alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Senate chamber during her installation ceremony, in Ottawa on Monday, October 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says GG vetting process needs improvement after Payette resigns

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s admission Friday that he might have… Continue reading

NDP member of Parliament Lindsay Mathyssen speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP warns of long delays in equal pay for women in federal pay equity rules

OTTAWA — The federal New Democrats say new rules to close a… Continue reading

President Joe Biden waves as he departs after attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. Less than a week after the economic gut punch of cancelling Keystone XL, Canada is bracing for more bad news today from the White House. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Patrick Semansky
U.S. president to sign executive orders enacting stringent new Buy American regimen

WASHINGTON — Less than a week after the economic gut punch of… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate fatal pedestrian collision

A 37-year-old man from Maskwacis has died in hospital as a result of his injuries.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital Tuesday December 15, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canadian provinces push back vaccination plans as Pfizer deliveries grind to a halt

Some Canadian health-care workers are being told they’ll have to wait longer… Continue reading

A Shell logo is seen at a petrol station in London on January 20, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kirsty Wigglesworth
Shell buys European electric car charging firm ubitricity

Experts say easier access to charging facilities key to successful rollout of electric vehicles

FILE— In this Feb. 23, 2019, file photo, Vashti Cunningham poses for photographers after winning the women’s high jump final at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in New York. Cunningham is one of the athletes who will be competing in the American Track League, which opens a four-week-long series on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 in an indoor setting at the University of Arkansas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez. File)
Back on track: Competing, not cash, lures big names to meet

American Track League begins a four-week indoor series at the University of Arkansas

Most Read