Coronavirus-stricken cruise ships allowed to dock in Florida

Miami, April 3 (IANS) Two cruise ships with passengers infected by the novel coronavirus were allowed to dock in the US state of Florida, ending a 12-day voyage at sea desperately searching for a pier.

The Zaandam cruise liner and its sister ship Rotterdam, both owned by Holland America, docked Thursday afternoon at Port Everglades, reports Xinhua news agency.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak on board, Chile, Argentina and Peru refused to let the Zaandam dock, and the ship was once denied access to the Panama Canal as it altered its itinerary to Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

Thursday’s arrival was also pushed back from the original schedule as local officials were concerned about medical availability and the safety of people on land.

Among the 1,250 passengers and 1,186 crew aboard the two ships, there have been some 200 on Zaandam who exhibited influenza-like symptoms, nine people tested positive for COVID-19, and two of the four deaths were caused by the disease.

Zaandam shifted some 800 healthy passengers to Rotterdam late last week.

According to an agreement reached by Holland America and local authorities, 13 passengers will need shore-side medical attention, sick passengers who are not critically ill will stay on board to receive treatment until total recovery, and healthy passengers are allowed to go home by bus or plane.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who green-lighted the docking Thursday morning, called the plan “real thoughtful”.