Second Cruise Ship Held in Quarantine for Coronavirus Testing

The World Dream at a pier in Hong Kong, February 5 (image via social media)

Published Feb 5, 2020 8:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

Another cruise ship has been quarantined in response to suspected cases of the Wuhan coronavirus. Officials in Hong Kong have denied permission to disembark to the vessel World Dream and are testing the 3,600 people on board for signs of infection. 

Three previous passengers who had been aboard World Dream between January 19 and 24 were diagnosed with the illness after they left the ship, operator Genting Cruise Lines said in a statement. About two dozen crewmembers of the World Dream have recently reported minor cold symptoms, according to Hong Kong's health department. Three others reported symptoms of a fever and have been transferred to shore for isolation and potential treatment.

Local officials are also attempting to locate 200 Hong Kong residents who were on board during the World Dream's previous voyage and have since returned home, according to Leung Yiu-Hong, the chief port officer of Hong Kong's health department.  

The World Dream is the second cruise ship quarantined this week over fears of coronavirus infection. On Monday, the Diamond Princess was held at an anchorage off Yokohama after a former passenger tested positive for the disease. After testing people with flu-like symptoms and those who had had contact with the known infection case, Japanese authorities identified 10 more individuals from Diamond Princess who tested positive, and they were evacuated by the Japan Coast Guard for treatment and isolation on shore. The individuals affected included one American national, three people from Japan, three from Hong Kong, two Australian nationals and one crewmember from the Philippines.

On Thursday (Japanese time), NHK reported that an additional 10 people tested positive for coronavirus aboard Diamond Princess. They will be transferred to a medical facility in Kanagawa prefecture for treatment. 

The Diamond Princess' 2,666 passengers include about 428 American nationals. All are expected to be quarantined on board for at least the next two weeks, and the ship's crew are making provisions for a long stay; one passenger reported on social media that the crewmembers are circulating request forms for prescription medications for those who will need refills due to the unexpected delay. 

In mainland China, the number of confirmed cases has reached 28,000 and the number of fatalities has risen to about 560. The numbers may represent an undercount: shortages of testing kits, laboratory services and hospital capacity have been reported in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, and health experts believe that many additional cases are not being identified.