HAMILTON, Bermuda, Tuesday February 11, 2020 – Health officials in Bermuda are seeking to assure residents that there is no reason to fear tomorrow’s arrival of a cruise ship, which was delayed by a Coronavirus scare last week.
The Anthem of the Seas was held up in its home port of Bayonne, New Jersey, last weekend because four passengers became ill. The cruise ship had been set to travel to the Bahamas with a stop in Florida, but will head to Bermuda instead.
At a press conference held yesterday to alleviate concerns about the pending arrival of the ship owned by Royal Caribbean, Minister of Health Kim Wilson insisted that protecting the health of Bermuda’s residents is her ministry’s top priority and “we would never take any action that could put the health of our community at risk”.
“Therefore, let me say this unequivocally: There are no passengers or crew on the Anthem of the Seas who are suspected of having the Coronavirus. The ship does not pose any risk different from any vessel arriving to Bermuda at any other time,” she said.
“The New Jersey Health Authority and the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have confirmed that the results were negative for the novel coronavirus among four passengers who were tested and were aboard the Anthem of the Seas on a previous sailing. To be clear, clearance by US health authorities confirms there are no suspected cases of Coronavirus aboard the Anthem of the Seas.”
Wilson added that the health of the passengers and crew aboard the cruise ship has been carefully and actively monitored and a ‘Declaration of Health’ form will be sent to the Department of Health and reviewed by the Port Health Programme.
To further ensure the safety of Bermuda, she said, health and port authorities will continue to apply careful control protocols at all points of entry.
The Health Minister further explained that the decision to reroute to Bermuda was made by the cruise line in order to provide a better experience for those passengers whose cruising time was shortened due to the late departure.
“This was simply a logistical decision taken by the cruise line and rumours to the contrary should be ignored…Please let me reiterate, protecting the health of Bermuda’s residents is the Government’s top priority. This includes taking steps, steps which are internationally accepted, in better ensuring protection of the public from serious health risks including the novel coronavirus,” she said.
Meantime, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Cheryl Peek-Ball who was also at the press conference, said the Ministry of Health is working closely with stakeholders from different disciplines and sectors of society to plan and prepare for the global risk presented by coronavirus.
“Specifically, arriving travellers will undergo a travel risk assessment and could have their health monitored and movement on island restricted for up to 14 days. Those who have spent time in jurisdictions considered at very high risk will be given health instructions for follow-up and monitoring for 14 days,” she said.
“Furthermore, the Bermuda Government has put a restriction on direct flights from China which applies to private/corporate aircrafts. Additionally, any visitors that have spent any time in mainland China in the last 14 days are discouraged from traveling to Bermuda and will be subject to risk assessment and necessary monitoring and restrictions. Likewise, travel to mainland China by our residents should be avoided at this time due to the risk of the novel coronavirus. Residents returning from mainland China will undergo a travel risk assessment and may be subject to movement restriction and health monitoring for up to 14 days.”
The CMO assured that if a case of coronavirus is confirmed in Bermuda, contact tracing will begin immediately and relevant individuals will be contacted by Ministry of Health staff. She added that any situation posing a risk to the safety of the general public will be communicated through official Ministry of Health channels.