NASSAU, BAHAMAS – More than 600 passengers who were stranded at sea for weeks onboard a coronavirus infected cruiseliner will be flown home today through a Cuban airport.
The Bahamas-flagged Braemar cruise ship was not permitted to dock in the country over the weekend, after being denied entry at multiple Caribbean ports.
The ship was carrying five persons who tested positive for COVID-19, and had placed another 40 people with influenza-like symptom in isolation as of Sunday.
After making its way into Bahamian waters on Saturday, the vessel was allowed to drop anchor 25 miles south west of Freeport to receive food, fuel, medication and other supplies for those on board.
The ship – which was carrying 682 passengers and 381 crew members – had to remain at anchorage until supplies were delivered via cargo ship from Freeport.
On Monday, Captain Jozo Glavic announced that the Braemar was setting sail to Cuba where all guests will be repatriated back to the United Kingdom by air.
In a statement yesterday, the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ confirmed that three flights will depart from Jose Marti Airport,Havana.
“Any guests who have received a positive diagnosis for coronavirus, or have displayed any flu-like symptoms, plus their companions, will return to the UK on a separate flight,” the cruise line advised.
“This has been secured in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“All guests on this flight will have medical professionals available and will have support with any onward travel arrangements or requirements.
“In accordance with advice from Public Health England, all guests on this flight will be required to self-isolate for 14 days once they have returned home.”
The company further advised that it will be making arrangements for guests flying back to London Heathrow, including access to coach transfers to either London Gatwick or Manchester airports, where their outbound flights for this cruise departed from.
Additionally, guests booked via a tour operator should wait to receive more information from them.
“All guests on the British Airways flights into London Heathrow will not be required to self-isolate. We would encourage all guests to monitor the latest updates from Public Health England on their return home,” the statement added.
“Any guests who are considered not to be well enough to fly will be offered support and medical treatment in Cuba.”
The World Health Organization has officially classified the spread of the virus as a pandemic. With the virus spreading its way across European countries, WHO has declared Europe the epicenter.
This comes nearly two months after the COVID-19 outbreak was confirmed in Wuhan, China, where the potentially deadly virus originated.