The Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship Zaandam is still looking for a destination where it can dock. That says the president of the shipping company in a video message in the night from Sunday to Monday. Two coronavirus infections were diagnosed on the ship on Thursday.
"We are working around the clock to find a destination for Zaandam," said HAL President Orlando Ashford in the video message.
The HAL reported on Friday that four passengers died on MS Zaandam. It is not known whether these passengers died from the effects of the COVID-19 virus. On Saturday, some of the passengers were transferred without any symptoms to another cruise ship, the Rotterdam.
Florida may be denying entry
Saturday evening it was announced that the MS Zaandam was allowed to cross the Panama Canal. The HAL wanted to ship the vessel through the channel to the port of Fort Lauderdale in the US state of Florida. However, the ship may also not be allowed to dock here.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida Mayor Dean Trantalis says permission has yet to be moored for the ship. He calls the arrival of the ship "unacceptable" and says he does not want the health of its inhabitants to be endangered even more during the corona crisis. According to Trantalis, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security must first come up with a plan to protect the Florida community.
The cruise ship carried 1,282 passengers, including twenty Dutch people. Dozens of passengers and crew have reported flu symptoms. It is not known whether Dutch people are among the dead, the infected passengers and people with influenza symptoms.
Not a "healthy" and "sick" ship
In his video message, Ashford also gave an explanation for splitting the passenger group in two. The HAL president emphasizes that the company has not created a "healthy" and "sick" ship. The ships will stick together and, according to Ashford, can support each other to take care of the passengers. "Whether you're in isolation on the Zaandam or Rotterdam, we protect the health of those who are still healthy by isolating them while we figure out where we can go ashore," said Ashford.
MS Zaandam was on a cruise along the coast of South America and left the Argentine city of Buenos Aires on March 7. The intention was to dock in Chile on March 21, but due to the worldwide outbreak of the corona virus, all ports where the ship wanted to moor were locked.
Please take a moment to watch an update from Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford that was broadcast on in-stateroom television aboard Zaandam and Rotterdam: https://t.co/uK6Zk0ZwPhAvatar
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The coronavirus in short
- The coronavirus mainly spreads from person to person via sneezing and cough drops. The chance of becoming infected through surfaces such as door handles is small. This chance decreases if you wash your hands often.
- You can considerably reduce the chance of spreading by keeping at least 1.5 meters away from others.
- An infected person infects two to three others on average. Precautions are necessary to contain this.
- The vast majority of patients have mild (flu-like) complaints.
- Almost all deaths involve the elderly or other vulnerable persons, such as heart, lung or diabetes patients. If everyone complies with the measures, this reduces their risks.
- Read here what precautions you should take.