Five Confirmed Cases of Coronavirus Aboard Cruise Ship Braemar

The Fred. Olsen cruise ship Braemar (file image)

Published Mar 12, 2020 9:54 PM by Paul Benecki

The Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines vessel Braemar has been denied entry to the Bahamas after five people on board tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19. 

Braemar was scheduled to end a cruise of the western Caribbean in Barbados on Thursday, but she was required to change course after testing confirmed five positive cases of coronavirus on board, according to a statement issued by Fred. Olsen. She is now headed for her flag state, The Bahamas - but the Bahamian government has indicated that she will not be allowed to enter port. 

"The Braemar cruise ship . . . will not be permitted to dock in The Bahamas and passengers and crew will not be allowed to disembark. This decision is based on consideration for the protection of the health and safety of the Bahamian people and residents of The Bahamas," the Bahamian Ministry of Transport said in a statement Thursday afternoon. "Should [she] arrive in Bahamian waters, The Bahamas will do all that it can to provide humanitarian assistance. This may include providing fuel, food, water and other supplies as needed by the vessel."

The ministry said that the Bahamas Maritime Authority - the administrator of the Bahamian flag registry - is monitoring the health situation on board the vessel at regular intervals.  

The individuals who tested positive include four crewmembers and one passenger, according to Fred. Olsen. They were tested during a previous port call in Willemstad, Curaçao on Tuesday, and the results were sent back to a lab in Holland for further confirmation.

“All of these guests and crew will continue to be looked after in isolation, along with anyone else reporting flu-like symptoms. We are continuing to follow outbreak protocols from UK Public Health to ensure everyone on board stays safe and well," Fred. Olsen said in a statement. 

Fred. Olsen is a UK-based line with a focus on the British market, and it draws many of its passengers from the British Isles. The company said that it is working with the UK government and Public Health England to make arrangements to return passengers home as soon as possible. 

Previous port calls

In a statement Thursday night, the port authority of the Dominican Republic noted that Dominican public health officials had previously denied the Braemar permission to enter her home port of La Romana, where she was scheduled to arrive February 27. At that time, four Philippine nationals, two British citizens and two U.S. citizens were under medical observation for flu symptoms, the authority said. Beginning March 1, the vessel conducted a turn-around in St. Maarten instead of La Romana, disembarking passengers and embarking new passengers for her next voyage. 

The Braemar went on to call Cartagena, Colombia on March 8; an American national who disembarked from the Braemar in Cartagena has been confirmed as the city's first recorded case of coronavirus. Colombia's ministry of health reports that the former passenger is in isolation in a hospital.