Can park, can’t disembark, Quang Ninh tells cruise ships from Covid-19 territories

By Minh Cuong   February 22, 2020 | 07:27 pm PT
Can park, can’t disembark, Quang Ninh tells cruise ships from Covid-19 territories
Japanese cruise ship Diamond Princess docks in Ha Long Bay on January 28, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Anh.
Quang Ninh will allow cruise ships from Covid-19 infected areas to dock, but crew members and passengers must stay on board.

The northern province, home to the UNESCO world heritage site of Ha Long Bay, decided Friday that all ships that have docked in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau have to follow strict quarantine procedures on arrival.

Upon arrival all crew members and passengers on board must have their health checked, and will have to stay on board. They "are definitely not allowed to disembark," local authorities declared.

For ships coming from areas free from the virus, owners and operators must duly supply the province’s tourism department, border guard and customs department with specific information of their voyages along with the lists of passengers and crew, at least 10 days prior to arrival.

The provincial health department will then work with related agencies to decide whether people on board are medically eligible to disembark.

Once they complete their Quang Ninh tours, the provincial tourism department will collect information on all passengers and staff of service and tourism companies who have served the visitors.

The move aims to allow authorities to continue monitoring every passenger and crew member as well as those that have come into direct contact with them for 14 days after the ships leave Quang Ninh.

On February 13, Quang Ninh, which shares a border with China, denied the Aida Vita cruise ship permission to dock over fears of Covid-19 infections. With over 1,100 European tourists, the ship was scheduled to dock at Cai Lan Port in Ha Long Town, home to Ha Long Bay.

Following the denial, the cruise ship management canceled the entire tour of Vietnam, which included Ha Long, Da Nang, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City.

The ship had departed from Bali in Indonesia on January 17 and visited nine ports en route to Quang Ninh, excluding mainland China and Hong Kong.

Four days later, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam admonished Quang Ninh authorities for turning the cruise ship away.

Warning other localities not to repeat this act, Dam said that while they need to strictly implement immigration and quarantine procedures with respect to foreign visitors and vehicles coming from epidemic-affected areas, they must ensure these do not affect tourism and other business activities.

Quang Ninh's decision came amidst rising fears after hundreds of passengers on board cruise ship Diamond Princess were found to be infected by the new coronavirus. It had visited Chan May Port in Thua Thien-Hue Province on January 27 before docking at Ha Long International Cruise Port a day later.

Diamond Princess, operated by Princess Cruise under British-American Carnival Corporation & Plc., was placed under two-week quarantine on arrival at Japan's Yokohama City on February 3 after dozens of passengers tested positive for Covid-19 caused by the novel coronavirus. So far, the ship has reported more than 600 infections and two deaths.

Recently, MS Westerdam, operated by Carnival Corporation’s Holland America Line, carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members, was turned away by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines, and Thailand over fears some on board may be infected by the virus.  After floating at sea for nearly two weeks, the vessel was finally allowed to dock at a Cambodian port Thursday. Later, an American passenger reportedly tested positive for the virus.

Vietnam has recorded 16 infections so far, of whom 15 have been discharged from hospitals after repeatedly testing negative for the new coronavirus.

The country declared the Covid-19 outbreak an epidemic on February 1. WHO said last week that the nation has responded well to the epidemic from the very outset, preventing its spread.

The global death toll of the Covid-19 outbreak has reached more than 2,400 and infections topped over 78,000, mainly in China.

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