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Coronavirus Cruise Ships

Thousands of cruise ship crew stranded at sea

Jack Burton



Thousands of cruise ship crew stranded at sea | The Thaiger
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Tens of thousands of cruise ship crew members remain stranded at sea, virtual prisoners on their ships with no clear end in sight as the Covid-19 coronavirus drags on around the globe. The cruise industry has been shuttered and shattered by the crisis, with onboard outbreaks, denial of port access and no clear idea of when guest will return and ships can sail again.

Many crew aren’t being paid because their contracts have ended. Some have no internet access; tensions are flaring; and some have even filed suit against their employers.

In March, US authorities issued a no-sail order as the virus crisis ramped up. Ships with passengers offloaded them, some more easily than others. According to the US Coast Guard, there are more than 100 ships carrying over 70,000 crew in or near US territorial waters or ports.

Caio Saldanha, a Brazilian DJ who works on a vessel which is in limbo somewhere between Florida and the Bahamas, shares a cabin with his 29 year old girlfriend Jessica Furlan, who hosted on-board activities for passengers. They have spent 3 weeks confined to the cabin, and stopped getting paid on April 24.

We are prisoners. I need help. We need help. We need to fight to go home.”

Those who keep the ships running – sailors, cleaners and cooks, for example – are still getting paid, but those whose jobs were to entertain passengers are out of luck, and employees who’ve completed their contracts are not getting paid either. The cruise lines provide room and board, but nothing more. Crew must pay for anything else, even toothpaste and soap. Some have to pay for internet access.

The major cruise lines stand accused of failing to do enough to get their staff home, ostensibly to save money on pricey charter flights, a claim the companies deny.

But not everyone is in a huge rush. Some crew members feel safer at sea and fear that all the publicity is going to hurt the companies that pay their bills.

A 42 year old South African food and beverage manager for Carnival says it’s is complex and very frustrating time for those that love their jobs.

“Keeping the crew on board was costing more than the charter flights would, and that it was simply very difficult to repatriate certain people to certain destinations.”

“That fault cannot lie with the cruise lines, it lies with bodies like the CDC.”

The Cruise Lines International Association told reporters that so far, there have been a total of 2,789 confirmed cases of Covid-19 onboard 33 cruise ships, among passengers and crew.


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The ship without a port – Costa Fortuna heads for Singapore

The Thaiger



The ship without a port – Costa Fortuna heads for Singapore | The Thaiger

After being turned away by Thai and Malaysian authorities, over fears of possible coronavirus patients being aboard, the Costa Fortuna is now heading to Singapore. But Singapore port authorities are not saying if they will allow the ship to dock at this stage.

The operator of the cruise ship Costa Fortuna says it was heading to Singapore to end its journey tomorrow, as planned, after it was turned away from Malaysia and Thailand over coronavirus fears.

The Italian cruise ship attempted to dock in Phuket, Thailand on March 6, but its passengers were denied permission to disembark by Thai officials because it was carrying passengers who had left Italy within the last two weeks.

On March 7, the Costa Fortuna attempted to dock in Penang, south of Thailand in Malaysia in the Malacca Strait, but was denied due to a Malaysian ban on cruise ships.

Italian cruise line owners Costa Crociere claims there were no suspected virus cases among the passengers, but confirmed that their passenger manifesto included Italians. Italy now has the largest number of cases of the virus outside China with 7,375 infections (Monday).

Costa Crociere also announced today that it is cancelling a cruise due to depart on March 10 out of Singapore.

Costa Fortuna is a cruise ship for Costa Crociere built in 2003 on the same platform as Carnival Cruise Lines’ Destiny class. She was refurbished between December 10 – 16, 2018

The ship without a port - Costa Fortuna heads for Singapore | News by The Thaiger

Costa Fortuna sitting in Patong Bay, unable to disembark its passengers

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 coronavirus UPDATE – Italian lockdown, US surge in cases, death rate up to 3.4%

The Thaiger



Covid-19 coronavirus UPDATE – Italian lockdown, US surge in cases, death rate up to 3.4% | The Thaiger

The cases of coronavirus in China continue to fall as Italy locks down entire cities to contain the virus. New York officials have announced a state of emergency. Around the world, the virus has now infected 95 countries. There is a total of 110,066 cases, 3,830 related deaths and 62,278 total recoveries.

The epidemic is moving west as new cases in China drop dramatically. Meanwhile Italy is imposing an unprecedented peacetime lockdown which directly affects 16 million people as new cases and deaths skyrocketed over the weekend. Italy’s cases have nearly tripled from about 2,500 infections just last Wednesday to more than 7,300 yesterday, with deaths rising to more than 366.

In the Lombardy region of northern Italy, which has been locked down, schools, conferences, markets, tourist attractions, church congregations, and even funerals, are banned. People are now required by law to keep a distance of one metre from one another.

In the US cases have also risen to 538 with 22 deaths recorded, 3 in the past 24 hours. Californians remain on edge as a cruise ship starts disembarking today. The cruise ship, the Grand Princess, with nearly 3,000 stranded passengers, prepares to dock today in the Port of Oakland in San Francisco Bay.

The local Department of Health and Human Services say the Grand Princess docks today and outlined plans for the nearly 3,000 people aboard the ship, 1,000 of them local Californians. They stressed that no one on board would be released immediately to the general public.

“All of those passengers will be quarantined for 14 days at military installations.”

Leading health officials warn that the US is now entering a new stage in dealing with Covid-19 coronavirus, saying that containment is no longer possible. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the first two years of the Trump administration says “we’re past the point of containment.”

“We have to implement broad mitigation strategies. The next two weeks are really going to change the complexion in this country. We’ll get through this, but it’s going to be a hard period. We’re looking at two months, probably, of difficulty.”

The World Health Organisation now estimates the death rate from Covid-19 at 3.4%, shocking experts following the progress and statistics of the current outbreak.

Speaking at a media briefing, the World Health Organisation’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reported that the death rate was far higher than that of the seasonal flu, which kills about 0.1% of those infected.

But he clarified that the death rate is likely to change further as more cases are confirmed, though experts predict that the percentage of deaths will decrease in the longer term since milder cases of COVID-19 may be going undiagnosed.

But he warned that Covid-19 caused a “more severe disease” than the seasonal flu and explained that “while people around the world may have built up an immunity to the flu over time, the newness of the Covid-19 meant no one yet had immunity and more people were susceptible to infection.”

“A patient’s risk of dying from Covid-19 varies based on several factors, including where they are treated, their age, and any preexisting health conditions.”

Covid-19 coronavirus UPDATE - Italian lockdown, US surge in cases, death rate up to 3.4% | News by The Thaiger

In other coronavirus news…

• In China, 10 people have died and dozens are still trapped after a hotel used as a quarantine building collapsed. The owner of the building is under police custody.

• New York officials declared a “state of emergency”, as the state’s caseload rose to 105 yesterday from 89 on Saturday. Oregon, with just 14 cases, also followed suit.

• In Iran, where dozens of senior officials are sick, a senior adviser to the supreme leader and a member of Parliament died after contracting the virus. State media reported that all flights to Europe would be suspended indefinitely.

• Saudi Arabia has cut off access to Shiite Muslim towns and villages in the east of the kingdom, cordoning off an area in Qatif Governorate where all 11 of the country’s confirmed coronavirus cases have been identified. And local Saudi media reported that the country would temporarily close down all educational institutions and block travel to and from a number of countries in the region. The kingdom had already suspended pilgrimages to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

• The health minister in France, one of Europe’s bigger trouble spots with 1,209 cases, has announced a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

• Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel, with 39 cases (no recorded deaths yet), is considering requiring all Israelis and foreign nationals arriving from abroad to go into a 14 day self-quarantine.

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