Singapore to allow ship barred by Malaysia, Thailand to dock

SINGAPORE (AFP) – Singapore will allow a cruise ship carrying about 2,000 people to dock after it was barred by Malaysia and Thailand over coronavirus fears, officials said yesterday.

The Costa Fortuna was turned away from the Thai holiday island of Phuket and the Malaysian state of Penang in recent days, despite having no suspected virus cases among its passengers and crew.

But the ship – carrying dozens of people from Italy, which has been hard hit by the virus – will be allowed to dock at its home port of Singapore today as scheduled.

A doctor onboard will check passengers and crew before they disembark, and everyone will undergo temperature screenings before entering Singapore, the city-state’s port authority and tourism board said.

The vessel, which set sail from Singapore last Tuesday, said no passengers were feverish or had other symptoms, they added.

Thailand refused to let the ship dock due to restrictions on people with recent travel history to Italy, while Malaysia has barred all cruise ships from the country’s ports because of coronavirus fears.

Italy has been hard hit by the virus with 366 fatalities – the most deaths from the disease of any country outside China, where the outbreak began in December.

Singapore last week banned visitors with recent travel history to northern Italy.

Officials said all passengers on the Costa Fortuna had completed checks related to the virus before the start of the cruise.

The case has similarities with that of the Westerdam, a cruise ship that was at sea for two weeks and was rejected by five countries over fears its passengers could have the virus.

Cambodia finally allowed it to dock on the country’s southern coast on February 13.

Worldwide, the total number of people with COVID-19 has passed 110,000, while more than 3,500 have died.