Singapore to accept cruise ship rejected by Malaysia, Thailand amid COVID-19 fears

The Costa Fortuna cruise ship is seen near Phuket, Thailand, on 6 March. (PHOTO: Associated Press)
The Costa Fortuna cruise ship is seen near Phuket, Thailand, on 6 March. (PHOTO: Associated Press)

SINGAPORE — The cruise ship Costa Fortuna, which is carrying some 2,000 passengers including dozens of Italians, will make a scheduled call at Singapore on Tuesday (10 March) amid fears of possible coronavirus cases on board.

This after the ship was rejected by both Malaysia and Thailand, due to travel restrictions placed by both countries in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In a joint statement from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Monday (9 March), both agencies noted that all of the Costa Fortuna’s passengers had embarked earlier from Singapore.

They did so having 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.

The ship departed Singapore last Tuesday and is home-ported here. It has also declared on its Maritime Declaration of Health that none of its passengers currently on board are showing symptoms of fever or respiratory illness.

“The doctor on board the cruise ship will check on passengers and crew in order to ensure that they are healthy prior to disembarkation. All passengers entering Singapore are required to undergo temperature screening as a precautionary measure,” said the two agencies.

Additionally, passengers entering Singapore and exhibiting fever, symptoms of respiratory illness, or both, but who do not meet the Ministry of Health’s clinical case definition may be required to undergo a COVID-19 swab test. Passengers who are identified for COVID-19 swab testing but refuse to do so will not be allowed entry into Singapore.

While travellers who have been swabbed will be allowed entry into Singapore, they must stay contactable at all times.

According to the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS) website, the Costa Fortuna is scheduled to dock at MBCCS at 9am on Tuesday.

Singapore’s cruise terminals remain open to scheduled cruise calls out of the country. Unscheduled calls have been disallowed since 24 February.

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.

According to latest reports, some 366 people have died of the coronavirus in Italy, with a total of 7,375 infections in the country. Numerous countries have placed travel restrictions on those with recent travel history to northern Italy, including Singapore.

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