Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cruise line crew member quarantined after leaving Dominica

The Newsdesk

The authorities in Barbados have reacted swiftly to a suspected case of the H1N1 “Swine Flu” virus. A crew member of the Carnival Victory cruise line who was on board the ship that left Dominica for Barbados was quarantined after exhibiting symptoms of influenza.
Crew members of Carnival Victory greet local officials on arrival in Barbados.

The female crew member was quarantined upon the ship as soon as she started to complain of the flu like symptoms shortly after leaving the Roseau port.

Upon arrival at the port in Bridgetown, Barbados, health authorities there immediately started screening all 3 000 passengers and crew on board before allowing them to disembark. The subsequent screening took several hours and slowed activity at the country’s busy port.

Rumors quickly circulated that the port had been closed but in a midday news conference, Minister of Health Donville denied the reports saying “Officials of the Bridgetown Cruise terminal have confirmed that at no time was the facility closed, but the strict health procedures for managing such situations were fully activated, which resulted in some passenger delay.” George Hutson, Minister of International Business and International Transport, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, and Chairman of Barbados Port Inc. David Harding, accompanied the Minister at the press conference.

He went on to assure the Barbadian public that there was no reason to be alarmed and that they should “continue with business as usual.” He added that a blood sample of the sick crew member had been sent to the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre in Trinidad and Tobago for further testing; “to determine if it is the H1N1 virus.”

None of the passengers who eventually disembarked showed any signs of the virus. Barbadians who were on the ship were provided with a health alert card, so in the event that they present any symptoms of the flu they will know what to do when contacting medical personnel.

The latest scare has brought into sharp focus the way in which Caribbean countries will handle cruise visitor arrivals in the face of the flu scare. More than 500 000 visitors are expected into dominica before the cruise ship season ends.

It was confirmed earlier this week that two crew members on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas had contracted the virus. Both employees have now fully recovered.

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