#HollandAmericaLine; #Zaandam; CoronavirusHitCruiseShip;#sailingOffTheCoastOfPanama
Washington, Mar 30 (Canadian-Media): It's been a horrific week for the a Holland America Line cruise ship, Zaandam -- stuck abroad sailing off the coast of Panama -- carrying 1,243 passengers including 247 Canadians, with a flu-like illness outbreak, four dead and two confirmed cases of COVID-19, media reports said.
Zaandam. Image credit: Twitter
73 passengers and 116 crew members were reported to be sick currently.
Even after being permitted to pass through the Panama Canal, Zaandam passengers' uncertainty and anxiety increased about where Zaandam would be allowed to dock and when they would get home.
Zaandam's earlier plan to dock and let passengers disembark in Fort Lauderdale, Forida, was unsuccessful due to county officials' refusal to let a coronavirus-hit ship to dock there for fear and concern of spread of spread of the coronavirus.
Michael Udine, the commissioner of Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, had reportedly told CBC News that the county is already overrun with more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases and was apprehensive about letting in coronavirus-hit ship to add to its problems. "We're a hot spot here. Our medical facilities are taxed," said Udine.
The initial plan of the Zaandam, which began its cruise on March 7, was to dock on March 16 in Punta Arenas, Chile, to let passengers off early also failed due to the refusal of the country to let passengers disembark from coronavirus-hit ship, led Zaandam to set course for Fort Lauderdale.
On the weekend about 795 healthy passengers were moved to the Zaandam's sister ship along with medical supplies and more staff to be transferred to Rotterdam.
Even that ship was able to pass through the Panama canal but regarding embarking of the healthy passengers at Fort Lauderdale, Udine said that all the passengers would have to be quarantined upon arrival, because some could be asymptomatic.
Udine said the county will review a plan for how Holland America will handle the situation and likely make a decision soon.