HAVANA TIMES – The Fred Olsen Cruise Ship, MS Braemar, will dock in Mariel, 35 miles west of Havana, Cuba on Tuesday with over 1,000 passengers, including dozens possibly with the coronavirus.
The company told The Guardian that “the ship had 22 passengers and 21 crew members in isolation after displaying flu-like symptoms and five aboard who already tested positive for the new coronavirus.”
The UK government has been looking for a way to repatriate the passengers but other Caribbean ports in Curacao and Barbados refused to allow the ship to dock.
The Cuban Foreign Ministry issued the following statement on Monday in response to a request from the British authorities.
“On March 13, the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland requested that Cuban authorities allow the Fred Olsen cruise line’s MS Braemar to dock in a Cuban port with a small number of travelers with the new coronavirus (SARS CoV 2/Covid-19), and assist in their repatriation by air.
“Given the urgency of the situation and the risk to the lives of the sick passengers, the Cuban government has decided to allow the docking of this vessel and will adopt established sanitary measures to receive all citizens on board, in accordance with protocols established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Cuban Ministry of Public Health.
“In conjunction with British authorities, arrangements have been made, once the travelers arrive, for their safe and immediate return to the United Kingdom on charter flights.
“These are times of solidarity, of understanding health as a human right, of strengthening international cooperation to face our common challenges, values that are key to the humanist practices of the Revolution and of our people.”
Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Havana, March 16, 2020