Politicians are not allowing a cruise ship with multiple dead coronavirus sufferers to enter seaside ports for fears the outbreak may spread when they dock.
The MS Zaandam cruise ship has in a holding pattern for nearly two weeks because it has been unable to find a port willing to accept it after embarking from Buenos Aires on March 8. The ship, with about 1,200 passengers on board, has been traveling from country to country in search of help as coronavirus rapidly spreads on board, although the cruise was supposed to end in Chile on March 21.
Four people have died on the ship as of Wednesday afternoon. Two of the deaths have been confirmed to be coronavirus related and at least nine others have tested positive for the virus, although nearly 180 passengers are currently experiencing flu-like symptoms associated with Covid-19.
The ship has been rejected by officials in Chile, Peru and Argentina, which have sealed their ports in response to the pandemic. It is now on a desperate course to Fort Lauderdale, Florida where officials do not seem willing to take on the burden of the passengers.
‘We cannot afford to have people who are not even Floridians dumped into South Florida using up those valuable resources,’ Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told Fox News on Monday.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis echoed the governor’s sentiments and said: ‘We are a community that are trying to hold everything together. We don’t need any more infection in our communities. It cannot come to Fort Lauderdale.’
The Zaandam, which is run by Carnival Corp’s Holland America Line, reportedly has about 300 Americans on board. It’s sister ship, the Rottendam, has previously taken a group of asymptomatic passengers from the Zaandam. Both ships are expected to reach Florida on Wednesday.
‘We started getting turned away by everyone. The world was closing its doors as we sat their waiting,’ passenger Emily Brazell, an American who was transferred to the Rottendam, told NBC.
‘I get it. I understand where they are coming from. But it’s important for them to know that there are so many people who are feeling fine and we should be allowed to get off,’ Brazell, who is in her 60s, continued.
The president of Holland America has hit out at the officials who have not allowed the boat to dock, calling the situation ‘a humanitarian crisis’ in a statement.
‘We are dealing with a “not my problem” syndrome. The international community consistently generous and helpful in the face of human suffering, shut itself off to Zaandam leaving her to fend for herself.’
‘These are unfortunate souls unwittingly caught up in the fast-changing health, policy and border restrictions that have rapidly swept the globe.’
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