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Malaysia says a Westerdam guest tested positive for COVID-19

FILE PHOTO Westerdam.jpg
On Sunday Westerdam remained alongside at Sihanoukville, Cambodia, with 747 crew and 233 passengers who were awaiting their final travel arrangements
A woman flying home via Malaysia after disembarking Westerdam in Cambodia tested positive for coronavirus, according to Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

The woman disembarked from Westerdam on Friday and later reported feeling ill at the Kuala Lumpur airport. She was taken to the hospital and is reported to be in stable condition. Her traveling companion tested negative for COVID-19. 

US woman and husband

News reports identified the woman as an American, 83, and said her husband, 85, has pneumonia and was hospitalized, too.

Holland America Line said it is working closely with government and health officials in Malaysia and Cambodia and experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

‘At this time, no other guests or crew, either on board or on their way home, have reported any symptoms of the illness. Guests who have already returned home will be contacted by their local health department and be provided further information,’ HAL said Sunday.

‘We are in close coordination with some of the leading health experts from around the world,’ added Dr. Grant Tarling, chief medical officer for Holland America. ‘These experts are working with the appropriate national health authorities to investigate and follow up with individuals who may have come in contact with the guest.’

Previous screenings

On Feb. 10, all 2,257 passengers and crew aboard Westerdam were screened for illness, which included taking temperatures. No individual was identified with an elevated temperature, according to HAL. Also, during disembarkation in Cambodia, passengers underwent an additional health screening including the completion of a written health questionnaire.

The passports of everyone on board were reviewed to ensure nobody had traveled through mainland China in the 14 days prior to the cruise, which started in Hong Kong on Feb. 1.

On Sunday, HAL reiterated that during the voyage, there was no indication of COVID-19 on the ship and said the guest who tested positive did not visit the medical center to report any symptoms of illness. An additional 20 passengers who went to the medical center during the cruise were tested by health officials for COVID-19, and all results were confirmed negative.

233 passengers remain on board

On Sunday Westerdam remained alongside at Sihanoukville, Cambodia, with 747 crew and 233 passengers who were awaiting their final travel arrangements. Other passengers from the cruise departed Sihanoukville via charter flights to Phnom Penh and are in various stages of transit home.

In a saga closely followed by global media, the ship early on had been barred entry to Japan, where it had been scheduled for several transit calls, and where disembarkation was to take place Feb. 15 in Yokohama. The basis for Japan’s denial was not clear. A number of other countries followed suit.

Ultimately, Cambodia agreed to accept the ship.

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