Quang Ninh streamlines steps to welcome cruise ships amidst coronavirus fears

By Hoang Phong    February 18, 2020 | 01:04 am PT
Quang Ninh streamlines steps to welcome cruise ships amidst coronavirus fears
Ships cruise Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province. Photo by Shutterstock/namanh.
Quang Ninh authorities say they are preparing detailed procedures to receive cruise passengers from areas free of the novel coronavirus.

Dang Huy Hau, Vice Chairman of Quang Ninh Province, at a Monday meeting asked provincial officials and relevant agencies to provide specific schedules on the arrival of cruise ships from safe areas, including the list of passengers registering to go onshore, so that relevant units can ensure safety when welcoming foreign visitors.

He said entry will be restricted to vessels from unsafe zones. Quang Ninh is home to UNESCO world heritage Ha Long Bay, in northern Vietnam

"The new coronavirus epidemic is a great challenge for tourism. Quang Ninh's aim is not to trade human health, but to maintain socio-economic development and fight the epidemic at the same time.

"We will strictly adhere to higher authorities' requirement of not receiving passengers from vessels that come from or go through epidemic-hit areas," Hau said.

The meeting followed Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam reprimanding provincial authorities for turning away passengers on the Italian vessel Aida Vita, operated by AIDA Cruises. Following Quang Ninh’s refusal, the cruise ship decided to cancel its entire trip to Vietnam, which would have started last Thursday and taken it to Ha Long, Da Nang, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City.

Warning other localities not to repeat the act, Dam said 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 business activities.

The ship’s passengers were 95 percent German, and there were no Asians on board. It had departed from Bali, Indonesia, on January 17, and visited nine ports, none in mainland China, the epicenter of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, or Hong Kong.

Quang Ninh's decision to turn away the cruise vessel came 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 the Covid-19.

Recently MS Westerdam, operated by Carnival Corporation’s Holland America Line, carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, 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. An 83-year-old American woman on MS Westerdam tested positive for the Covid-19 after arriving in Malaysia last Saturday.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has recorded 16 infections, 11 in northern Vinh Phuc Province, three in Ho Chi Minh City and one each in the central provinces of Khanh Hoa and Thanh Hoa. Eleven patients have been discharged from the hospital after repeatedly testing negative for the new coronavirus.

Vietnam declared Covid-19 outbreak an epidemic on February 1. WHO said Saturday that Vietnam has responded well to the epidemic from the very outset, preventing its spread.

As of Tuesday, the global death toll had climbed to 1,873 and confirmed infections topped 73,000. Nearly 12,000 patients have recovered.

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