Passengers to be evacuated from Antarctic cruise liner after almost 60% test positive for coronavirus

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Australian and New Zealand passengers are going to be evacuated from a stricken Antarctic cruise liner Thursday, after almost 60% of these on board tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Greg Mortimer, a cruise ship operated by Australia’s Aurora Expeditions, departed March 15 on a voyage to Antarctica and South Georgia. Since the start of April, however, the ship has been stuck off the coast of Uruguay, after authorities refused to permit passengers to disembark thanks to the danger of coronavirus.Of the 217 people on board, 128 passengers and crew have now tested positive for the virus.

Six passengers requiring specialized care are transferred to medical facilities in Montevideo — a video posted online by the Uruguayan navy showed them being transferred from ship to ship wearing full protective gear.Passengers from European and American who have tested positive for coronavirus, however, will need to remain on board until they need a negative test result, after which they’ll be ready to depart via Brazil, Aurora said.All passengers are going to be retested every two or three days, consistent with the company’s website.

In a statement earlier this month, Aurora said that the ship’s doctor had developed a fever, and “we are organizing a back-up volunteer medic.” The cruise operator added it had “formally escalated our request” to the Uruguayan authorities to permit the ship to dock and passengers to disembark, but it had thus far been denied.

Late Tuesday, the Uruguayan government said it had authorized a medical flight evacuation of latest Zealand and Australian passengers aboard the Greg Mortimer for later in the week . The passengers will fly to Melbourne on Thursday on a plane chartered by Aurora, where they’re going to undergo a mandated 14-day quarantine before proceeding to their final destinations.

“We are performing on charters and flights for all onboard with the aim of disembarking our passengers as soon as possible,” Aurora said during a statement.”While our preferred plan had been to disembark all passengers simultaneously, the character of things and therefore the difficultly in securing flights has meant it’s likely that the Australian and New Zealand passengers will leave the vessel before our European (UK included) and North American passengers.”

Aurora said the chartered Airbus A340 are going to be specially fitted with medical and quarantine facilities so as to “ensure the health and safety of all on board.” the corporate estimated the value per passenger of a minimum of $9,300, and said it had been in discussions with the Australian government “for support with this cost as we all know that it’s not viable for several people.”Ian Duddy, the UK’s ambassador to Uruguay, said on Twitter that “we remain in close contact with the Uruguayan government, the cruise operator (and) UK passengers on board the Greg Mortimer.”

“Several passengers have tested positive for Covid-19. We still explore ways for passengers to disembark while respecting all health protocols,” he added.The Uruguayan government didn’t discuss when or whether passengers would be ready to disembark in the week .

Cruise ships stuck
More than a dozen cruise ships are effectively trapped stumped thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, as countries refused to permit those carrying infected passengers to dock.Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said this month it had been in direct contact with 10 cruise ships with around 600 Australian passengers on board.

“In most cases, disembarkation cannot occur unless passengers have onward flight arrangements and are ready to travel on to the airport via a so-called sanitary corridor, put in situ by host countries,” DFAT said during a statement.The situation on board the ships rapidly transformed from holiday to misery for passengers, many of whom booked and purchased the journeys long before the virus began spreading late last year.

Jay Martinez, a passenger on board the South Pacific cruise ship Norwegian Jewel, told CNN in the week that he and his wife had “hesitations” about boarding the ship and looked into amending their plans but were told they were locked in.”Up until the day that we left, that wasn’t an option,” Martinez said. “And with us having such a lot money invested into our honeymoon, we had no other choice but to board the ship.”

Last month, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), an industry group whose members structure quite 95% of worldwide cruise capacity, suspended operations from US ports for 30 days. In a statement, CLIA said about 14% of its fleet, some 30 approximately ships, were still stumped . “Our members are focused on bringing these ships safely back to port as soon as they will ,” it added.

Source: CNN NEWS

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