An Italian cruise ship will finally dock in Singapore after Thailand and Malaysia rejected it amid the global coronavirus epidemic
- Singapore will allow a cruise ship with dozens of Italians on board to dock on Tuesday.
- The Costa Fortuna was turned away by ports in Thailand and Malaysia despite even though one on board tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
- The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Tourism Board said that passengers will undergo health checks before being permitted to disembark.
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Singapore will allow an Italian cruise ship to dock on Tuesday after the vessel was denied entry by ports in Thailand and Malaysia amid the escalating coronavirus epidemic.
The Costa Fortuna features 1,358 cabins, according to the Straits Times. The ship, which is expected to have around 2,000 passengers, departed from the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore on March 3 and will return to the same place at 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Yahoo! News reported. Of those on board, 64 people are Italians, according to Channel News Asia.
The COVID-19 virus originated in Wuhan, China, late last year and the nation has since reported more than 80,700 cases. Italy is the worst-hit country outside Asia, with almost 7,400 people infected and 366 dead as of Monday.
Though none of the passengers have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Costa team, it was still turned away by Phuket on Friday and Penang on Saturday.
The Thai government based its refusal on the fact that the Costa Fortuna's passengers left Italy less than two weeks ago. No one is presenting symptoms as yet, but that doesn't omit the risk of the virus being in its incubation stage, which officials say could last for 14 days.
Meanwhile, Malaysian ports have blocked cruise ships entirely - irrespective of where they are traveling from and who is on board.
Passengers will be screened before being permitted to disembark
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Tourism Board on Monday said on Monday that all the Costa Fortuna passengers underwent health checks before they boarded the ship, Yahoo! News said.
They will be screened for elevated temperatures and respiratory symptoms again before disembarking in Singapore.
"The doctor on board the cruise ship will check on passengers and crew in order to ensure that they are healthy prior to disembarkation. All passengers entering Singapore are required to undergo temperature screening as a precautionary measure," the agencies said in a joint statement, according to the Straits Times.
Also, people who enter Singapore "exhibiting fever and/or other symptoms of respiratory illness but who do not meet the Ministry of Health's clinical definition may be required to undergo a Covid-19 swab test," the statement continued, noting that anyone who refuses to undergo this test will not be permitted into Singapore.
Even if passengers are tested and given the all-clear, they must remain contactable, the Straits Times reported.
Singapore has 150 coronavirus cases as of Sunday, and 90 patients have recovered, Channel News Asia said.
Cruise ships have become a flashpoint in the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. More than 700 passengers became sick on the Diamond Princess and the Westerdam was turned away by five ports before being allowed to dock Cambodia. And almost 2,500 people on the Grand Princess are stuck in limbo off the California coast as President Donald Trump wants to keep it from reaching the mainland.
The US State Department advised on Sunday that US citizens should avoid traveling on cruise ships as COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention echoed the warning, saying, "Cruise ship passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19."