Authorities scramble to find passengers from Cambodia cruise after woman tests positive for coronavirus

Authorities scramble to find passengers from Cambodia cruise after woman tests positive for coronavirus
© Getty

A former passenger on a cruise ship allowed to dock in Cambodia after four other governments turned it away for fear of the coronavirus has been diagnosed with the virus after flying from Cambodia to Malaysia.

The woman, an 83-year-old American national, was one of several hundred passengers on the M.S. Westerdam that were flown out of Cambodia over the weekend, while others have remained aboard the ship or in hotels in Phnom Penh, The Associated Press reported.

Malaysian authorities said 143 other passengers flew home from Malaysia, but the unnamed woman and her husband, himself diagnosed with pneumonia, remained in the nation for treatment.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I think now given that there is a confirmed case that is suspected to have acquired infection on board the ship, the other passengers should be asked to quarantine themselves at home and alert health authorities if they develop fever or respiratory symptoms within the 14 days since disembarkation,” professor Benjamin Cowling from the School of Public Health at Hong Kong University told the AP.

Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines had previously turned the ship away before it was allowed to dock in Cambodia, whose prime minister, Hun Sen, has also refused to ban direct flights to China amid the outbreak for fear of damaging the national economy and Cambodian relations with Beijing. Before the American woman was diagnosed, a single case involving a visitor from China had been recorded.

“At this time, no other guests or crew on board or at the hotel have reported any symptoms of the illness. Guests who have already returned home will be contacted by their local health department and provided further information,” Holland America Line, the ship’s operator, said in a statement Monday.