Coronavirus: Holland America Line passengers confined to cabins after ‘flu-like’ outbreak

All passengers on board a Holland America Line ship have been confined to their cabins after an “influenza-like” outbreak.

A total of 13 passengers and 29 crew reported to the medical centre on Zaandam with the symptoms on Sunday.

The line said: “Out of an abundance of caution, we have now asked all guests to remain in their staterooms until we have more information. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board.”

The Carnival Corporation company stressed that the ship is following response protocols developed in co-ordination with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But HAL added: “Since it is flu season, and Covid-19 testing is not available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time.”

All ill people have been isolated and their close contacts placed in quarantine.

Crew who are not required for the safe operation of the ship are being quarantined.

“Those that are needed to maintain the ship’s operation are being asked to self-isolate when not performing essential functions, practice social distancing, self-monitor and report any illness to the medical centre,” the company added while outlining a series of precautionary measures.

Meals are being provided by room service until further notice, with all public areas closed.

Zaandam was sailing a South America voyage that departed Buenos Aires in Argentina, on March 7 and was originally scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21.

The company said: “However, due to global health concerns, Holland America Line made the decision to suspend its global cruise operations for 30 days and end its current cruises in progress as quickly as possible and return guests home.

“Despite previous confirmations that guests could disembark in Punta Arenas, Chile, for flights, we were not permitted to do so. No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas.

“Zaandam then sailed to Valparaiso, Chile, where it remained at anchor March 20-21 while taking on provisions and fuel, including regular medications for those that needed them.

“Zaandam departed Valparaiso on March 21 and is currently sailing north. Our intention is to proceed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for arrival on March 30, however we are still working on securing a reservation to transit the Panama Canal. Alternative options are also being developed.”

Meanwhile, HAL ship Maasdam departed Honolulu on March 20 after Hawaiian officials denied disembarkation. The vessel is now en route to San Diego in California, with a planned arrival on March 27.

Maasdam took on enough fuel and provisions at Honolulu to “comfortably” make the journey to San Diego, according to the line.

HAL is also attempting to fly passengers home from the vessel Amsterdam on its world voyage after they were allowed off in Fremantle, Australia.

The company said: “Full disembarkation of all guests is expected through March 23. Carnival Australia care team members will be assisting in Australian air hubs.

“Additionally, select ship staff trained as care team members will accompany those guests that require it on their flights.

“Holland America Line is endeavouring to get Amsterdam guests home as soon as possible.

“Borders are shut in most countries and ports, restrictions are tightening even further on travel and most international governments have advised their citizens to travel home right away.”

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