Westerdam is alongside in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where officials from the Cambodian Health Ministry are on board today to test the 255 passengers and 747 crew.
Holland America Line anticipates this will take several days and expressed appreciation for the ‘thoroughness of all authorities involved in resolving this situation.’
Passengers in Phnom Penh hotel tested, too
Passengers at a hotel in Phnom Penh have all completed the COVID-19 screening. Results are being returned when completed, with the first batch of 406 all negative. Cleared passsengers may travel home, and arrangements are being made for them.
One woman is hospitalized in Malaysia who tested positive for COVID-19, according to Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. She is reported in stable condition. Her huaband tested negative but has pneumonia.
The American couple were traveling through Kuala Lumpur airport with a group of other Westerdam passengers when the woman, 83, and her husband, 85, were tested. Both are hospitalized in isolation.
Holland America said no other passengers or crew on board or at the hotel have reported any symptoms of the illness. Passengers who have already returned home will be contacted by their local health department and provided further information.
HAL president on the scene
Holland America said passengers on the ship and in the Phnom Penh hotel are being cared for, including assistance with any medications. A full team is on the ground in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, including HAL President Orlando Ashford. A hotline has been established for families.
‘We are in close coordination with some of the leading health experts from around the world,’ said Dr. Grant Tarling, the line’s chief medical officer. ‘These experts are working with the appropriate national health authorities to investigate and follow up with any individuals who may have come in contact with the guest.’
The line said it continues to comply with government and health officials in Malaysia and Cambodia, as well as experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
No indication of illness during the cruise
Holland America has insisted there was no indication of COVID-19 during the cruise.
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, before 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.
HAL reiterated that during the voyage, the woman who tested positive did not visit the medical center to report any symptoms. An additional 20 passengers who went to the medical center during the cruise were tested by health officials for COVID-19, and all were negative.
Westerdam had been denied entry to Japan, where the cruise was to end Feb. 15. A number of other countries followed suit before the ship was accepted by Cambodia. Disembarkation began Friday, with passengers being taken in batches by charter flights to Phnom Penh for onward travel home.