Cruise ship passengers go straight to quarantine in Singapore

Nurul Azliah

Two Singaporeans returning home from the MS Westerdam cruise ship have been put in quarantine while 27 Indonesian crew members are back home in healthy condition, health officials said as stranded passengers return home amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The Philippines is reportedly working on evacuating about 500 Filipinos aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess ship where dozens of new infections have surfaced almost daily. The quarantine is set to expire tomorrow but it was unclear whether Japan would extend it. 

About 300 Americans have already been evacuated from the ship, which was carrying 3,700 people, and are being quarantined in the United States. Fourteen were infected. 

Australians aboard the Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama are also pleading for Canberra to rescue them. Around 200 Australians boarded the vessel and at least 24 are among the infected. 

In Malaysia, Dutch citizens from the MS Westerdam cruise ship are reportedly stranded in Kuala Lumpur because some had been in contact with an infected American passenger. Two others denied were prevented from boarding an Amsterdam-bound KLM flight.

Singapore reported two more cases yesterday involving Singaporeans: a 1-year-old boy and a 35-year-old man. 

The boy was among the second group of Singaporeans airlifted Feb. 9 from Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. The man is reported to be the second DBS bank employee and a close contact of the 50th case, which led to the evacuation of 300 employees from the bank’s offices in the Marina Bay Financial Center Tower 3. 

Singapore had recorded 77 cases of the infection as of Tuesday morning, 24 of which have recovered and been discharged. 

Two of the passengers are Singaporeans and are being quarantined in the city-state. 

 

The country is also bracing for more infections as more people from China; including Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and long term work pass holders; are set to return to the city-state in the coming weeks to resume work or school. All of them will have to adhere to a stay-home notice introduced by the government yesterday, which requires all of them to stay at home at all times. They cannot even step out to go to the shops or buy food. 

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said earlier this month there are about 30,000 Chinese work pass holders who have yet to return to Singapore from the Chinese New Year break. 

The two Singaporeans from the MS Westerdam cruise ship have been isolated at a government quarantine facility. 

Malaysia

The Malaysian man who contracted the disease after attending the Grand Hyatt business meeting in Singapore has been discharged from hospital, Malaysia announced yesterday. 

The 41-year-old man tested positive for the virus Feb. 3 and left the Sungai Buloh hospital after making a full recovery. His mother-in-law and sister, who have been infected, are still ill. 

Dutch citizens from the MS Westerdam cruise ship are reportedly stranded in Malaysia after several of them came into contact with the infected American woman. Two of the Dutch citizens were turned away from an Amsterdam-bound KLM flight. 

Thailand

Another person has been diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease in Thailand, bringing the country’s tally to 35. The latest patient was a 60-year-old Chinese woman related to a family that saw prior instances of infection.

Of all confirmed cases, 15 have been discharged from hospitals.

Thailand has also enhanced screening of passengers arriving by air from Singapore and Japan, where the most infections have been recorded outside China. 

Thailand on Monday also barred non-Thais from the MS Westerdam cruise ship, which the kingdom had turned away last week before it was allowed to dock in Cambodia. There were 21 Thais aboard the vessel and they were to be quarantined upon returning home. 

Indonesia

Indonesian Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto yesterday played down fears that the disease could be spread through travelers arriving from Singapore, where the number of infections is more than 70. 

The minister assured Indonesians, saying that both countries have a good relationship and that Singapore would inform Indonesia of any infections that may have entered the latter’s country. He also reminded the people that Singapore was not the epicenter of the outbreak but rather the Chinese city of Wuhan. He has also said the archipelago is shielded from infection by the power of prayer

Twenty-seven Indonesians working as crew members aboard the ship have returned home and are healthy Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said yesterday.

He added that there were 362 Indonesians working on the vessel. Only 27 returned because the rest were still contracted to work.

Manila

The Philippines is seeing a slower rate of hospital admissions related to the COVID-19 infections. More than 400 cases that were probed have tested negative for the virus while another 22 were awaiting their results.

The 49 Filipinos repatriated from Wuhan have also shown no signs of infection. Abroad, at least 28 Filipinos have been infected as of Tuesday morning. They include the 27 people aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan and one in the United Arab Emirates. 

The Philippines is also considering lifting its travel ban for Hong Kong and Macao. 

Hong Kong

Four more people were infected with the coronavirus in Hong Kong, bringing the city’s tally to 61. The new patients are a Filipino domestic worker, a 69-year-old man, that man’s colleague and the wife of an infected engineer. 

Five Hospital Authority staff had attended a meeting at its headquarters earlier this month with two engineers who were later diagnosed with the disease. The engineers, 54 and 45, work for an architecture firm and attended the same meetings earlier this month. Other employees are under medical surveillance but not quarantined or isolated as the two meetings were “brief” and attendees wore masks, Hospital Authority chief manager Lau Ka-hin told reporters yesterday.

Meanwhile, the value of toilet paper rolls and face masks in Hong Kong has definitely shot up, based on rising thefts involving the paper products. Three men reportedly stole 600 toilet paper rolls early Monday morning while an Indonesian domestic worker was jailed four weeks after stealing 5,500 face masks. 

Related:

69-year-old man tests positive for coronavirus, bringing total number of cases to 58
Indonesian domestic worker jailed for 4 weeks for stealing 5,500 face masks amid coronavirus-related shortage
Bog Roll Bandits: 3 robbers steal 600 toilet rolls from Hong Kong delivery worker at knifepoint
Coronavirus-infected Filipinos in Japanese cruise ship Diamond Princess now at 27


 

This article, Cruise ship passengers go straight to quarantine in Singapore, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!