‘Nothing to fear’ over Italian cruise ship

Passengers barred entry to Jamaica, welcomed in Cayman

All passengers from an Italian cruise ship, the Costa Luminosa, were allowed to disembark in Grand Cayman Saturday morning, despite anxiety over the Coronavirus.

Italians on board the ship were restricted from landing when it docked in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Friday, as a precautionary measure against the potential spread of the virus.

No such restrictions were put in place by Cayman authorities, however. The ship was anchored off Spotts and passengers of all nationalities were being tendered to shore Saturday.

Though there have been hundreds of cases of the virus in Italy and the country has been placed on a travel watch list for Caymanians, there is no evidence that anyone on board the Costa Luminosa has symptoms of the virus.

Public Health officials in Cayman confirmed that they were not aware of any medical issues with the ship. Current travel restrictions into Cayman only impact people who have been to mainland China within the last 14 days.

Port officials said they had no reason to withhold entry to any passengers on board.

Joey Woods, director of the Port Authority, said they would not bar passengers from disembarking simply for being Italian.

“There is no need for any public fear, alarm or panic,” he said.

“There is good collaboration and cooperation between the cruise lines, ourselves, Customs and Border Control and Public Health.”

The Costa Luminosa anchored off Spotts Saturday. – Photo: James Whittaker

He said every ship coming in to Cayman received a maritime declaration of health prior to arrival.

“If there is no cause for concern, the call is allowed,” he said.

Woods said cruise lines were actively screening passengers in an effort to prevent someone who may have been exposed to it reaching our shores.

He added, “Our local Public Health Authorities have very good guidelines in place and it has worked through all of the outbreaks of SARS, Ebola, Swine Flu and Norwalk viruses. We are all working to keep commerce going while at the same time preventing the spread of the virus.”

Outside of Asia, Italy has been the country most impacted by the Coronavirus. As of Friday there had been 888 cases and 21 deaths.

The Costa Luminosa, an Italy-registered vessel, had a crew of 1,000 and can accommodate up to 3,750 passengers.

The Jamaica Gleaner reported Saturday morning that the ship was cleared for entry into Ocho Rios after it was determined that the Italian crew members had not been home for several months.

Jamaica has placed a travel ban on China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Iran.

The country’s Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Christopher Tufton told the Gleaner that this was why the Italian nationals had not been allowed to disembark.

“The restrictions would be not to allow persons from those countries that were introduced to land, and whether it is airport or seaport, those restrictions would apply, so the Italians on the ship would not be allowed,” he said.

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