COVID cruise fears

COVID cruise fears

Government tells Barbadians they have nothing to worry about after cruise ship docks there with people coronavirus positive

Saturday, November 14, 2020

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC — The Barbados Government yesterday sought to reassure citizens that their health status was not being compromised after the authorities allowed a cruise ship to dock here with at least six people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“I can't speak for the cruise ship and I don't want to be able to do that but I can safely say that we are assisting like we have been doing all the time and that assistance is being provided through the Dos Santos Lab doing the testing and the isolation facility at Harrison Point at this time has one person and we will continue to assist, we have the capacity to do so,” Health and Wellness Minister Jeffrey Bostic said on a radio programme.

He told radio listeners that, “there is absolutely no compromise from our perspective in terms of public health compromising Barbados, so there is nothing at all for Barbadians to be worried about”.

Passengers on the Sea Dream 1 were informed of the first case aboard on Wednesday — five days into the week-long voyage — with Captain Torbjorn Lund announcing four new cases a day later.

The ship's 53 passengers—37 Americans and 16 other from the UK, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Germany — as well as non-essential crew are quarantining in their cabins after the cruise was halted and the ship returned to dock in Barbados.

Bostic said as of Thursday, “we would have tested, I believe, 34 people on Thursday when the ship reported that they had four persons on board… who were positive and during our testing we have picked up six positive cases totally…but testing is ongoing”.

The health and wellness minister said that no one was being allowed to leave the vessel and that, “the cases that were on board the vessel were isolated on the vessel and we actually went on board the vessel… and we did the swabbing of those persons that were presumptive positive cases and we followed that through with contact tracing with the people on the vessel that's why we were able to test 34 persons”.

Bostic also reiterated that Barbadians were not put at risk when the passengers arrived here from overseas to board the cruise.

“There was absolutely no risk to Barbadians. Remember we would have created a system several months ago to repatriate thousands of passengers and crew members on these vessels and it was done in a very comprehensive manner and in terms of health protocols there were no issues and there are no issues at all.

“We also would have done some testing for any of those persons who for whatever reasons might have been off the vessel but were not mingling in Barbados. There are no issues whatsoever,” Bostic said as he noted that the vessel had since departed Barbados.

International media reports said that the infections on the cruise ship came as a blow to the cruise industry which has been decimated by the pandemic after travel dropped off in March amid fears of virus spreading.

Cruise ships in particular gained a reputation as potential floating petri dishes after a number of huge outbreaks aboard liners in the early stages of the pandemic in February.

The Sea Dream 1's voyage was intended to restore confidence in the industry and coax travellers back onto liners with increased safety protocols. Many of the passengers are journalists and travel bloggers invited to document the journey.

The cruise was the first of 22 sailings in the Caribbean and the ship was scheduled to make stops in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.


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