Half of cruise passengers leave ship in Cambodia after no virus cases

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A mother and daughter waving at medical officers from the MS Westerdam docked at the port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on Saturday (Feb 15). About 1,200 of the 2,257 passengers and crew aboard Holland America Line's Westerdam disembarked in the Cambodian port at Sihanoukville during the course of Friday and Saturday, with most flying to the capital Phnom Penh for further travel, said Kheang Phearum, a provincial government spokesman. - AP

PHNOM PENH: More than half of the people aboard a luxury cruise ship that was turned away by several Asian nations due to fears that passengers could be carrying the newest coronavirus have disembarked in Cambodia, a Cambodian official said on Saturday (Feb 15).

About 1,200 of the 2,257 passengers and crew aboard Holland America Line’s Westerdam disembarked in the Cambodian port at Sihanoukville during the course of Friday and Saturday, with most flying to the capital Phnom Penh for further travel, said Kheang Phearum, a provincial government spokesman.

Phearum said 827 passengers and crew left the ship on Saturday.

Another 415 had already disembarked on Friday.

Officials had tested 20 people on board for the coronavirus after the ship docked on Thursday, an action the cruise line said was “out of an abundance of caution,” adding that all tests came back negative.

The Westerdam had been refused access to dock by the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Thailand due to fears that people aboard may have contracted the new strain of the respiratory virus.

It came after more than 40 people on another cruise ship, the Diamond Princess off the coast of Japan, tested positive. As of Saturday, more than 200 people on that vessel have been confirmed to be infected with the virus and transferred to medical facilities in Japan.

A German cruise ship docked in Thailand on Saturday, after having been turned away by Vietnam, and had no confirmed cases among passengers.

Cambodia has reported one case of the virus, a Chinese man, who officials said had recovered and left the country. – dpa/Asian News Network