MS Westerdam passengers not allowed to enter Taiwan

Chen Shih-chung reacts at the press conference on Feb. 13, 2020. (CNA)
Chen Shih-chung reacts at the press conference on Feb. 13, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Foreigners on board the MS Westerdam are not allowed to enter or transfer in Taiwan, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心), said on Thursday.

Speaking a regular news briefing, the CECC Chief Commander Chen Shih-Chung (陳時中) added that two Taiwan nationals on board the cruise ship will be quarantined at a hospital in Taiwan.

The MS Westerdam, which had been stranded at sea for two weeks, finally docked in Sihanoukville, the port city of Cambodia on Wednesday morning with 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members on board.

The cruise ship was turned away by five countries in Asia because they were worried of passengers carrying the novel coronavirus.

According to BBC, the MS Westerdam, a U.S.-based Holland America Line with over 2,000 passengers on board had no infection of the COVID-19 as of press time.

After the ship departed from Hong Kong on Feb. 1, it was rejected by five countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Guam and Thailand, while the ship crew expressed concerns regarding the limited fuel and food supplies.

Angela Jones, a U.S. passenger on board the ship told Reuters, “This morning, just seeing land was such a breathtaking moment,” adding, “I thought: is this real?”

Tedros Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), praised Cambodia for welcoming the cruise ship. It’s “an example of the international solidarity we have consistently been calling for,” he said.

All crew and passengers on board had been regularly checked for two weeks at sea, with none of them infected by the virus.

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