TOUGH DECISIONS: Health minister defends cruise ship denial to enter Ocean Cay

TOUGH DECISIONS: Health minister defends cruise ship denial to enter Ocean Cay
An MSC cruise liner.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville on Tuesday defended the government’s decision to deny entry to the MSC Seashore cruise ship last week after several crew members and guests onboard tested positive for COVID-19.

The denial was made despite the fact that the cruise line owns the private island of Ocean Cay.

Speaking to reporters regarding the decision, Darville said: “It is always related to the disease burden.

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville.

“If we feel that the ship has too many positive cases on board, it is the Ministry of Health’s responsibility to protect the well-being of the Bahamian population and try to find that balance where we are able to ensure and feel confident that the cases onboard the ship have the capabilities to be isolated and quarantine, and when we don’t feel that is possible, we will have to make those kinds of tough decisions.”

The health minister said the government is working very closely with cruise lines to ensure they keep operating in a safe way.

In a letter to guests on Thursday, Seashore Captain Giuseppe Galano advised that the Bahamian government forced the vessel to cancel its call to Ocean Cay Marine Reserve out of an abundance of caution.

Galano advised that during the ship’s routine monitoring, a limited number of positive COVID-19 cases were discovered onboard among several crew members and guests, who were isolated.

Due to the short notice of the denial, the cruise line added an additional day at sea in lieu of its interrupted call at Ocean Cay.

Darville said it is the government’s job to try to balance the economy along with dealing with the viral load in the country. 

“We are looking very closely and multiple discussions have to be borne throughout the weekend on best ways on how we can accommodate the cruise ships and to minimize the disease burden onboard that ship,” he said.

“That discussion is still ongoing.”

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.