SINGAPORE — Doctors, licensed by the Ministry of Health, will conduct enhanced, one-on-one checks on passengers from the cruise ship Costa Fortuna with travel history to northern Italy within the last 14 days, said Singapore authorities late Monday (9 March) night.
“Those who exhibit fever and/or other symptoms of respiratory illness will be conveyed directly to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. Those without symptoms will be conveyed directly to the airport for their onward flights,” said a joint statement by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Ministry of Health (MOH).
All remaining passengers entering Singapore will also undergo temperature screening as a precautionary measure. Those who exhibit fever and/or other symptoms of respiratory illness will be required to undergo a COVID-19 swab test. Passengers who are identified for swab testing but refuse to do so will not be allowed entry into the country.
The cruise ship, carrying some 2,000 passengers including dozens of Italians, will make a scheduled call at Singapore after being rejected by both Malaysia and Thailand, due to travel restrictions placed by both countries in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.
It is scheduled to dock at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore at 9am on Tuesday.
Some 366 people have died of the coronavirus in Italy, with a total of 7,375 infections in the country. The northern region of Italy has been placed under lockdown with 16 million people under quarantine.
Numerous countries have placed travel restrictions on those with recent travel history to northern Italy, including Singapore.
According to the three agencies, Costa Fortuna began its journey from Singapore as a home-ported ship and is returning as scheduled on Tuesday. Over the past two weeks, Singapore has handled more than 10 scheduled calls by cruise ships and disembarked more than 5,000 passengers.
All of Costa Fortuna’s passengers completed pre-embarkation checks based on prevailing policies for travel history and temperature screening as required by the cruise line and the terminal operator prior to boarding. It has not picked up any new passengers since it left Singapore last Tuesday.
Last Friday, the Costa Fortuna was turned away from Phuket as Thai authorities have imposed restrictions “on Italians that have transited in Italy in the last 14 days”, said Costa Cruises on Twitter.
The following day, it was also refused entry to Penang, as Malaysia has restricted entry of all cruise ships to the country's ports, according to media reports.
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The healthcare system in Italy's Lombardy region is so strained from the new coronavirus that officials are asking doctors to come out of retirement and nursing students are being fast-tracked to graduation