The government yesterday denied a cruise ship with five cases of COVID-19 from docking in The Bahamas.
The announcement came after MS Braemar, a 929-passenger ship registered in The Bahamas, owned by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, said it was “heading towards The Bahamas”.
The ship was on a 14-day western Caribbean cruise when four crew members and one guest tested positive for COVID-19.
It was expected to end its cruise in Barbados yesterday when the company released a statement noting that it had to change course “following a cautious response from the local authorities”.
“We are currently working with The Bahamas, the UK (United Kingdom) government, UK Chamber of Shipping and Public Health England to ensure that all guests can return home as soon as possible,” the cruise line said.
However, in a statement, the Bahamas Ministry of Transport and Local Government said the ship “will not be permitted to dock in The Bahamas and passengers and crew will not be allowed to disembark”.
“This decision is based on consideration for the protection of the health and safety of the Bahamian people and residents of The Bahamas,” the statement said.
“The Bahamas Maritime Authority has been in constant communication with the owners of the Braemar, which is a Bahamas-flagged ship.
“The BMA has reaffirmed to the Braemar that should it arrive in Bahamian waters, The Bahamas will do all that it can to provide humanitarian assistance.
“This may include providing fuel, food, water and other supplies as needed by the vessel.
“The BMA continues to monitor the well-being of passengers and crew with updates at regular intervals. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people who have contracted the coronavirus and who are at immediate risk.”
There have been more than 124,800 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in 118 countries since its outbreak in Wuhan, China, in late-December.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 4,610 people have died as a result of the virus.
In recent weeks, several cruise ships, including Carnival and Fred Olsen, have reported cases of coronavirus on board.
As a result, two federal agencies — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. State Department — are urging U.S. citizens to avoid cruise ships.
“Recent reports of COVID-19 on cruise ships highlight the risk of infection to cruise ship passengers and crew,” the CDC said in a recent advisory.
“Like many other viruses, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis told Bahamians not to panic despite a worsening COVID-19 crisis, which has recently been declared a pandemic by WHO.