Thailand Denies 2,000-Pax Cruise Ship Port Entry Over Virus Fear

A file photo of MS Westerdam. Photo: JD Lasica / Flickr
A file photo of MS Westerdam. Photo: JD Lasica / Flickr

BANGKOK — Citing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, the government on Tuesday said it will not allow a cruise ship sailing from Hong Kong to disembark in Thailand, stranding its 2,000 passengers and crew at sea.

Deputy transport minister Atirat Ratanasate said the Dutch-operated Westerdam cruise ship will not be permitted to dock, hours after the company said the ship – which had been already denied port call in Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines – will let its passengers disembark at Laem Chabang Port in Chonburi province.

The company’s statement was met with widespread fear in Thailand that its passengers might have caught the new strain of coronavirus.

Deputy prime minister and health minister Anutin Charnvirakul also took to his Facebook last night that he has ordered authorities to prevent the ship from disembarking at Thai ports.

The ship carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crews was scheduled to conclude its voyage in Yokohama, Japan, but their permission was revoked by the Japanese authorities due to fears of coronavirus.

The company has yet to respond to the Thai government’s decision.

Another cruise, Diamond Princess, has been quarantined at the Yokohama port since Feb. 4, where 135 passengers were found to be infected with coronavirus as of Monday, according to Kyodo News.