SINGAPORE (CNA) – The cruise liner turned away from ports in Malaysia and Thailand due to COVID-19 concerns docked in Singapore yesterday, with some passengers immediately taken to Changi Airport by bus. The Costa Fortuna berthed at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre as part of a scheduled call, after the ship was barred from stopping in Penang and Phuket.
This was despite the cruise operator stating there were no suspected COVID-19 cases on board.
The ship, however, was carrying dozens of Italian passengers.
Italy was placed on lockdown yesterday after it reported 97 more deaths from COVID-19, taking its toll to 463 – the largest outside of China. There are 9,172 confirmed cases in the country.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong explained why Singapore let the ship dock. “The passengers were already in Singapore,” Wong said.
“They had arrived in Singapore, and then they embarked on a cruise from Singapore with the intention to come back to Singapore.
“I don’t think it would be right for us to reject the ship if it were to come back to Singapore… so that’s why we agreed to accept them.
“We took extra precautions, as we have taken for all cruise ships as well.” The minister added that there were Singaporeans aboard the Costa Fortuna, but did not specify how many were on the ship.
Passengers started to leave the vessel at about 9am and more than 600 had left by noon, the Ministry of Health (MOH), Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said in an update yesterday afternoon.
Passengers CNA spoke to said the mood on board was generally fine, but some said they were disappointed they could not alight in Penang or Phuket.
Some passengers said they had their temperature taken before disembarking.
The passengers included those from Germany, Australia, Slovenia and Romania.