Cruise ship “Costa Favolosa” docked at Port St. Maarten on Wednesday night.
~ Passengers disembark after VSA protocols ~
PHILIPSBURG–Cruise ship Costa Favolosa docked a day early in St. Maarten after being denied entry in Tortola amid coronavirus fears. The ship was held at anchor in Great Bay on Wednesday while local health authorities carried out safety protocols, causing a stir on social media.
The ship was scheduled to call at Tortola on Wednesday. However, this was denied by British Virgin Islands authorities because several persons on board had recently travelled from Italy, where 11 persons have died from a coronavirus outbreak that erupted in the European country in the past week.
“After consultation with the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and other senior health officials, a decision was made that cruise ship Costa Favolosa will not be allowed to call on the [British – Ed.] Virgin Islands today.
“It was reported that a number of passengers had flown directly from Italy and had joined the ship in Guadeloupe within the last six days. This period is within the 14-day incubation period of CoVid-19. It was also reported that five passengers had fallen ill, with three testing positive for the Influenza A Virus, and are isolated on board the ship. It was determined that the ship was unable to conduct the test for the presence or absence of CoVid-19.
“In light of the public and health safety actions being taken in Italy in reaction to CoVid-19, including the quarantine of select cities and cancellation of its own carnival activities, a decision was made to err on the side of caution,” said the BVI government in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Costa Cruises, there are no suspected cases of coronavirus on board the ship and no guests or crew members have symptoms. “The ship medical staff is monitoring the health of guests and crew members, giving the utmost attention to the application of all precautionary measures,” said the cruise line in a press release on Wednesday night.
The cruise line said the health and safety of passengers is its top priority.
“Since the outbreak of the global health emergency, the company has decided to further strengthen the precautionary measures applied to all its fleet in order to guarantee maximum safety for guests and crew.
“To preserve a safe and immune environment onboard the vessel and assess their suitability for boarding, all embarking guests, visitors or crew members are given a specific pre-screening medical questionnaire to fill in before the cruise experience commences,” said the cruise line.
According to the cruise line, there is body temperature screening and anyone presenting a temperature above 37.8 degrees Celsius or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is denied access to the ship.
Additionally, guests and crew members of any nationality who have travelled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong, and/or Macau within 14 days prior to boarding are not allowed on Costa ships. “The same measure applies to those who have been in contact with confirmed cases of CoVid-19, for which a regular declaration has been made to the competent health authorities,” said the cruise line.
As of February 22, because of the current outbreak of the virus in several Italian towns, Costa Cruises has denied boarding to passengers originating from any of the quarantined municipalities.
“Costa guarantees guests and crew the highest standards of cleanliness on board its ships thanks to strict sanitisation protocols and the use of disinfectants effective against CoVid-19,” said the cruise line.
The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA conducted its protocol and cleared Costa Favolosa while the ship was offshore. She then anchored in Great Bay while Customs and Immigration cleared the ship to dock at Port St. Maarten. After being cleared, some passengers were taken to shore via smaller tender boats.
The ship departs St. Maarten this afternoon, when she sets sail to Martinique.
“Costa Cruises would like to thank the St. Maarten government and Port St. Maarten for today’s safe mooring of its ship Costa Favolosa and the cooperation offered during the past days by local authorities,” said the cruise line on Wednesday.