COVID-19 ship still en route to Bahamas

While the Bahamian government said a cruise ship with five cases of COVID-19 will not be allowed to dock in The Bahamas, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said the ship is still headed this way.

“Fred Olsen Cruise Lines can confirm that our ship Braemar is still heading to The Bahamas, where we have been given permission to come alongside in order to take on supplies and medication,” the company said in a statement.

“However, we have been told by authorities in The Bahamas that we may not be allowed to disembark passengers and crew there as planned.

“This is an ongoing situation and a dedicated team at our HQ in Ipswich is working around the clock to find a solution. They are speaking to The Bahamas, the UK government, UK Chamber of Shipping and Public Health England.

It added, “Our top priority remains getting the guests onboard Braemar home as soon as possible, whilst ensuring the safety of all those on board.”

The MS Braemar, a 929-passenger ship registered in The Bahamas, 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”. The ship revealed it was “heading towards The Bahamas”.

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 read.

“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 World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on Wednesday.

The virus, which can cause pneumonia, originated in Wuhan, China, late last year.

Since then, it has spread to all continents except Antarctica, with major outbreaks in China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.

As of yesterday, there were nearly 140,000 cases of the virus across the globe. Over 5,000 people have died, with the majority of deaths in mainland China.

The virus has been spreading throughout the United States, where there were over 1,700 confirmed cases and 41 deaths.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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