Bulletin
Investor Alert

Associated Press Archives | Email alerts

Feb. 17, 2020, 2:07 p.m. EST

Feel-good story surrounding MS Westerdam docking in Cambodia takes turn after passenger tests positive for coronavirus

An 83-year-old American woman who was on the ship and flew from Cambodia to Malaysia was found to be carrying the virus that causes COVID-19

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Associated Press

1 2

“There are more deaths from the flu than there have been from this particular virus,” his wife said.

The couple said they were screened on their way home at airports in Phnom Penh and Singapore by thermal scanners that remotely monitor arriving passengers.

On arrival in Los Angeles, they said, they were among a large crowd getting screened that included fellow cruise passengers. They said they answered questions given by someone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that included whether they felt sick, had visited mainland China or knew anyone who had contracted the virus.

Two Canadians who returned via Vancouver International Airport were asked to put on protective face masks on arrival but were not otherwise isolated, Canada’s CBC News reported.

“We were asked a few questions and filled out an immigration form, and they very nicely helped us bypass the usual lineups and let us out the door,” said Joseph Hansen, who took the cruise with his wife. “We’re feeling fine.”

Hansen, from Surrey, British Columbia, told CBC that he did not hear about the American woman in Malaysia with the virus until he landed in Vancouver on Sunday.

“I guess on the one hand it’s upsetting to know that there was one case, but we’re feeling fine,” he said. “We’ve had health scans, temperature scans and we don’t have any concerns for our own health.”

Cambodia’s government had originally earned kudos from the head of the U.N.’s World Health Organization and the U.S. ambassador there for allowing the ship to dock at the port at Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Thailand after being turned away by Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Guam and Thailand.

The move was seen as a victory for the image of Cambodia’s authoritarian prime minister, Hun Sen, who welcomed the ship’s passengers with handshakes and flowers. He boasted that although Cambodia is a poor country, it “has always joined the international community to solve the problems that the world and our region are facing.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said he was pleased Cambodia had agreed to accept the Westerdam and described it as an example of the international solidarity advocated by the U.N. health agency.

“The one thing I can say is we’re very, very grateful that Cambodia has opened literally its ports and its doors to people in need,” U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy said Saturday when he took his family to the port to meet passengers. “We think this sends a strong message. We all have to help each other.”

In hindsight, however, Cambodia’s handling of the ship’s passengers has been criticized on social media, though it also has gotten some support.

According to Cowling, the Hong Kong University professor, it’s a good idea to let passengers leave and monitor them after disembarkation.

Since there were no known cases on board the Westerdam at the time passengers left the ship, it was reasonable to allow them to travel home, he said.

“I think it would not be appropriate to keep passengers on the ship for 14 days, as it could be a high-risk environment,” Cowling said.

“We have seen the consequences of holding passengers on a cruise ship with the Diamond Princess outbreak,” he said, referring to another cruise ship that is quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, with hundreds of cases among the passengers.

___

Ng reported from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Peck reported from Bangkok. Associated Press writer Aniruddha Ghosal in New Delhi contributed to this report.

1 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Industries

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »
Link to MarketWatch's Slice.