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Dr.Dobro

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About Dr.Dobro

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    Connecticut
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    Holland America

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  1. Crew member Melinda Mann's Facebook page, with more video: https://www.facebook.com/denmarkblue?__tn__=%2CdC-R-R&eid=ARC4cYR7hPZ5m7VYnPRjTn2Y1dIdnPtJwfwav7z8IuLBygOyZstNRciXzQqV1JWEwpcJHwQMcEdB_yYn&hc_ref=ARRig_jSQXR652WU7o_0CueWidXvJgAC5cvViRWrxAXf9wdXjbg9KYz5JRQ_0-PoLNw&fref=nf
  2. Including 40-minute video of encounter at gangway. https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2020/04/29/holland-america-cruise-american-crew-denied-disembarkation-la-coronavirus/3046817001/
  3. We booked SPB in St Petersburg about 4 years ago. Guide was a professor of art history, and she was great. Got us back on day 2 with time to spare.
  4. Pretty informative New York Times story. We already know much of this, but there is some interesting analysis of the possibility of the Westerdam passengers triggering a pandemic. * * * By Richard C. Paddock, Sui-Lee Wee and Roni Caryn Rabin New York Times Feb. 16, 2020 Updated 4:09 p.m. ET An American woman who left a cruise ship in Cambodia last week and flew to Malaysia with more than a hundred other passengers has tested positive for the coronavirus, alarming health experts who fear that some exposed passengers who then traveled onward could become a new source for global transmission. In all, 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members were aboard the Westerdam, a Holland America Line cruise ship that left Hong Kong on Feb. 1. It was at sea for just under 14 days, the time frame that is believed to be the maximum incubation period for the highly transmissible virus. Cambodia allowed the ship to dock after it was repeatedly turned away by other countries over coronavirus concerns. Officials said that more than 140 other passengers from the Westerdam had flown by Saturday from Cambodia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. All but the American woman and her husband were eventually allowed to continue to their destinations, including airports in the United States, the Netherlands and Australia. As of Sunday, 233 passengers and 747 crew members were still on the ship docked at Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Holland America said. The more than 1,000 other passengers departed Sihanoukville on charter flights to Phnom Penh and were in various stages of transit home, the cruise line said. It was unclear whether Cambodia would seek to quarantine passengers who are still in the country, or whether those who had left by plane would face quarantine in their own countries when they arrived. “We anticipated glitches, but I have to tell you I didn’t anticipate one of this magnitude,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, adding that the best approach to containing a broader spread of the virus from the Westerdam would be to track down all of the passengers and quarantine them for two weeks. “This could be a turning point” in the epidemic, Dr. Schaffner said. “We have potentially many people in many countries, and all it would require is just the establishment of another outbreak in another country and that could potentially tip the scales.” Dr. Eyal Leshem, director of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, called the disclosures “extremely concerning” and said the passengers who traveled onward from Kuala Lumpur substantially increased the risk of a pandemic. “We may end up with three or four countries with sustained transmission of the virus,” he said. “It may be more and more difficult to make sure this outbreak is contained only within China.” Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen — who has argued that fears about the coronavirus are overblown and refused to evacuate Cambodian students from Wuhan, the Chinese city where it emerged — personally greeted many Westerdam passengers with flowers when they disembarked on Thursday. But he may have put his own citizens at risk as a result. The biggest cluster of cases so far outside China, where the virus emerged, is on another cruise ship, now off Yokohama, Japan. And hundreds of passengers from the ship docked in Cambodia, the Westerdam, have already departed for several countries. Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, said at a news conference on Sunday that the American woman, who is 83, had tested positive twice for the virus. The woman and her husband, 85, also an American citizen, were both hospitalized and in isolation. The husband has also been tested twice for the virus, and the results were negative both times. But he has pneumonia, which is often a sign of the virus that appears before it can be identified through testing. The Westerdam was allowed to dock in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on Feb. 4, but was turned away in Taipei, Taiwan, and by ports in Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and the United States territory of Guam, according to local news media reports and a relative of passengers onboard. With Holland America insisting that no one on the Westerdam was infected, Cambodia agreed on Thursday to let it dock. After Malaysia announced that the American passenger had become ill, the Kaohsiung Department of Health asked taxi drivers who had driven passengers to report in for health checks, The Taipei Times reported. The global fight against the coronavirus is complicated by the fact that different countries may have different levels of disease surveillance and prevention measures. While the World Health Organization provides guidance, it is up to each country to enforce these standards, including whether to quarantine people who may have been exposed or to stop them from traveling. The Cambodian government said passengers and crew members were screened using protocols of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States before being allowed to disembark. Their temperatures were checked, and about 20 people who had reported being sick during the trip were tested for the coronavirus, according to a statement issued Sunday by the United States Embassy in Cambodia. All of them tested negative. Dr. Schaffner said it might have been wiser to test each disembarking passenger, because other screening methods — like questionnaires and temperature taking — are fallible. People eager to get off a ship may not respond entirely truthfully to questioning, and sick people’s temperatures vary during the day, he said, generally being lower in the morning. The woman who tested positive for the virus did not visit the ship’s medical center during the cruise to report any symptoms of illness, Holland America said in a statement on Sunday. The woman and her husband were among 145 passengers from the ship who then flew to Malaysia. All went through thermal scanning at the Kuala Lumpur airport, and 137 were allowed to fly on to other destinations, officials said. But the American couple and six other passengers were stopped and tested for the virus. The other six were later cleared for travel. After the American woman initially tested positive, both Holland America and Cambodia questioned the result, calling for further testing and confirmation. Malaysia carried out a second round of testing, which officials said on Sunday had confirmed that the woman was infected. Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said that the country would not accept any more passengers from the Westerdam, which is still docked in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. “If there’s one passenger who is confirmed, the others are potentially in trouble,” said David Hui, director of the emerging infections disease center at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He recommended that the other passengers be quarantined in their home countries for 14 days. The World Health Organization is working with local authorities to have samples sent to regional reference laboratories for further testing said a spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic. President Trump tweeted his thanks to Cambodia for allowing the ship, more than 600 of whose passengers were Americans, to dock. Many of the passengers went sightseeing in Sihanoukville after the ship docked in Cambodia, visiting beaches and restaurants and getting massages. On Sunday, after Malaysia’s announcement, the remaining passengers and crew members were restricted to the ship, and buses that had been scheduled to transport them were parked nearby. Coordination between Malaysia and Cambodia appears to have been minimal. In a letter to his Malaysian counterpart on Sunday, the health minister of Cambodia, Mam Bunheng, said he had learned through the news media that the first test of the American woman had been positive. Attempts to contact Cambodian officials for comment were not immediately successful. Holland America said in its statement on Sunday that no other passengers or crew members had reported any symptoms and that passengers who had returned home would be contacted by their local health departments. There were no details on how that would be arranged. “We are in close coordination with some of the leading health experts from around the world,” said Dr. Grant Tarling, chief medical officer for Holland America Line. “These experts are working with the appropriate national health authorities to investigate and follow up with individuals who may have come in contact with the guest.” The company said that before the passengers’ departure, the passports of everyone on board had been reviewed to make sure that no one had traveled through mainland China in the 14 days before the cruise. The company defended the health screening it had conducted during the cruise and on arrival in Cambodia. But it did not respond to a question on whether it had been appropriate to let Westerdam passengers travel to many parts of the world without putting them in quarantine first. Christina Kerby, 41, a communications director with BlueShield in California, said she was among a group of passengers who had nasal and throat swabs taken in Phnom Penh on Sunday. Ms. Kerby was supposed to fly to Singapore on Sunday and then on to San Francisco. Ms. Kerby said that her temperature had been taken two or three times during her stay on the ship, and that passengers were required to fill out health questionnaires detailing whether they had symptoms such as cough, fever and diarrhea. “I can’t really comment on how this was missed, but I did feel very safe and well cared for on the ship,” she said, adding that she believed Holland America “was operating appropriately given the situation.” Ms. Kerby said she had discussed the risk of going on the cruise with her family. She boarded the ship in Hong Kong and traveled with her 75-year-old mother and her brother. “We made the decision that it’s not worth passing up the potential to have a lot of fun and see the world just out of fear,” she said. “That’s why I joined, and I think the other passengers have the same feeling.”
  5. Dear Valued Guest: We are very sorry to inform you that your Westerdam cruise departing February 29, 2020 has been cancelled. Holland America Line has been closely monitoring the very fluid and evolving situation with respect to the new coronavirus that originated in mainland China. Our medical experts are being briefed regularly and coordinating closely with international health authorities to ensure we protect the health and well-being of our guests and crew, which is always our top priority. The difficult decision to cancel this cruise comes out of an abundance of caution considering the highly dynamic and unpredictable changes we have seen the past couple of weeks in travel restrictions and port operations that could affect your cruise. While we expect things will stabilize, we never want to put our guests in the position of a having an experience that doesn’t live up to their expectations. All guests will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, Holland America Line Flight Ease air, pre- and post-cruise hotel packages, prepaid shore excursions and other prepaid items purchased through Holland America Line, and taxes, fees, and port expenses. Your refund will be processed automatically via the method of payment used to pay for your cruise. As your cruise has been cancelled so close to departure, each guest will also receive a Future Cruise Credit equal to 50% of the cruise fare paid on this voyage. The terms and conditions of this Future Cruise Credit appear below. We understand this cancellation may cause you to incur additional expenses, such as air change fees. Reimbursement of reasonable non-refundable expenses will be considered. A Change Fee Reimbursement Form is available at http://*****/HALchgf; please complete this form and submit it, along with any relevant receipts and documentation, for review by our corporate office. If you purchased a Cancellation Protection Plan or independent vacation travel insurance, please submit your claim through your carrier before submitting a reimbursement request. Should you have any questions, please contact us at the appropriate office: Seattle Office (USD/CAD currency): Contact us at 1-800-577-1729 or 206-626-7385. We are available Monday – Friday, 7:00am – 5:00pm PT. Rotterdam Office (EUR currency): Contact us at 00800 1873 1873. We are available Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 6:00pm. Southampton Office (GBP currency): Contact us at 0344 338 8605. We are available Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 6:00pm. Sydney Office (AUD currency): Contact us at 1300 987 321. We are available Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 7:00pm. Again, we extend our deepest apologies for this cancellation. Please know that we share in your disappointment and deeply appreciate your patience and understanding of these circumstances. We sincerely hope we have the opportunity to meet and exceed your expectations in the near future. Kind regards, Holland America Line Future Cruise Credit (FCC) Terms & Conditions The value of this credit may be applied to the cruise fare only of a new cruise or Land+Sea Journey reservation with Holland America Line, and it is combinable with any other applicable discount. While the credit is valid for one year from the date of this email, please note that it needs only to be applied to the new booking by that time; the cruise does not need to depart within this timeframe. Although you may choose any stateroom category, this offer is dependent upon space availability and cannot be transferred, refunded, or used as a deposit. This credit may not be used for onboard expenses, pre- and post-cruise packages, shore excursions, taxes, Cancellation Protection Plans, Home City Air, Hotel Service Charges, or other optional programs or services. We ask that you or your travel professional verify this offer with our Reservation Agent at the time your new reservation is placed. For your convenience, the credit is built in direct association with Mariner Society numbers so it will automatically be credited toward the cruise fare of the next Holland America Line sailing booked.
  6. https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/02/16/covid-19-tests-on-american-adhered-to-international-protocol-says-dr-wan-azizah More details on infected Westerdam passenger PUTRAJAYA: The 83-year-old American woman who was a passenger of cruise ship MS Westerdam was tested twice before she was confirmed to be Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) positive, says Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. The Deputy Prime Minister said the Malaysian health authority adhered to international protocol when carrying out the tests. Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the Disaster Management Centre Committee chairman, said that Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had shown all the test results to his Cambodian counterpart. Dr Wan Azizah said she had met with the Prime Minister, the Health Minister and various relevant agency heads and held a meeting with them as well as Malaysia Airlines to discuss issues relating to Covid-19. The 83-year-old woman was the first passenger from the MS Westerdam, operated by Carnival Corp unit Holland America Inc, to test positive for the virus while her husband was tested negative. "The wife tested positive twice. The first one, they (Cambodian authorities) said that maybe we did not adhere to protocol. "But Dr Noor Hisham said we showed everything to them and they agreed that our protocol was actually world class. So, whatever Malaysia did was right. "It was not a false positive. It was a positive," Dr Wan Azizah said at a press conference here Sunday (Feb 16). Earlier, the Cambodian Health Ministry had asked its Malaysian counterpart to review its test results after the woman was tested positive for the virus, Reuters reported. Dr Wan Azizah said the United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had chartered a Malaysian Airlines flight to bring several of the cruise ship passengers from Sihanoukville in Cambodia to various destinations via KL International Airport. According to the plan, MAS would prepare four rented chartered flights (MH8763) to bring 145 passengers to KLIA on Friday (Feb 14). Dr Wan Azizah said that all the passengers were screened and the woman and her husband, both US citizens, were detected to have symptoms while going through thermal scanners. They were sent to Hospital Sungai Buloh for further examination and the following day, the woman was tested positive. She had a cough but no fever or breathlessness, while X-ray results did not show any inflammation. Dr Wan Azizah said based on the results, MAS has cancelled the rest of the chartered flights, since the other passengers were considered "close contacts" of the woman. Meanwhile, among the 143 others who were screened and did not have symptoms, 137 of them had continued with their journeys while six more were waiting for their connecting flights, she said. According to the Health Ministry, Malaysia will be communicating with the respective countries via International Health Regulation focal points for further monitoring of the 137 passengers. The remaining six passengers waiting for their flights here will have to go through Covid-19 tests, she said. "If they are found negative, they will be allowed to continue with their journey. "However, if they test positive, they will be brought to hospital for observation," she said. Dr Wan Azizah also said the government has decided not to allow any cruise ships that had left China or transit there to enter Malaysia. The remainder of the passengers on the MS Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia will not be allowed to enter Malaysia since they were all close contacts of the American woman, she said. Dr Wan Azizah said that the MS Westerdam carried 2,257 people with 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members. The ship had docked in Hong Kong for a day before going on a 14-day East Asia cruise journey on Thursday (Feb 13). The ship was not allowed to dock at several countries before it was allowed to at Sihanoukville on Feb 13.
  7. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/coronavirus-american-woman-from-cruise-ship-westerdam-tests-positive-again-in-malaysia Westerdam passenger tests positive a second time KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - An American passenger from a cruise ship docked in Cambodia has tested positive for the new coronavirus a second time in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia said on Sunday (Feb 16), after the cruise operator sought further tests. Malaysia said on Saturday the 83-year-old woman who had been on board the MS Westerdam, operated by a unit of Carnival Corp, had tested positive for the virus after arriving in Kuala Lumpur from Cambodia. She was the first from the ship, which was carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, to test positive. Cambodian authorities also called on Malaysia to review its test results. Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Waz Azizah Wan Ismail said on Sunday a retest was carried out on the American late on Saturday night and she tested positive again. Her husband tested negative. The American woman had flown to Malaysia last Friday from Cambodia along with 144 others from the ship, according to the Malaysian health ministry. Following the woman's first positive test, a number of passengers, including two Dutch citizens, were denied boarding for an Amsterdam-bound KLM flight departing from Kuala Lumpur, according to the Dutch foreign ministry. The tourists who were kept from boarding KLM flight 810 are still in Malaysia. A number of Dutch citizens who were aboard the Westerdam have already returned to the Netherlands. There are widespread fears that cruise ships around Asia may be spreading the virus. The biggest cluster outside China has been on the Diamond Princess, quarantined off Japan's Yokohama. Out of about 3,700 passengers and crew on board, 355 people have tested positive as of Sunday evening.ry.t the cruise ship operator had sought more tests.
  8. Posted Feb. 15, approx. 4 p.m. Eastern https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/cruise-ship-passengers-bumped-from-klm-flight-in-malaysia/ar-BB102rmq Westerdam Passengers Bumped From KLM Flight in Malaysia (Bloomberg) -- A number of passengers, including two Dutch citizens, were denied boarding for an Amsterdam-bound KLM flight departing from Kuala Lumpur, according to the Dutch foreign ministry. The travelers were among the more than 2,200 passengers and crew on the Westerdam cruise ship, which was turned away by five ports before disembarking in Cambodia. An 83-year-old American passenger was diagnosed with the coronavirus a day after she left the ship. The tourists who were kept from boarding KLM flight 810 are still in Malaysia, along with another group of Dutch citizens suspected to have had contact with the infected American woman. Dutch RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment estimated that 11 people weren’t allowed on the plane. A number of Dutch citizens who were aboard the Westerdam have already returned to the Netherlands, where they will be monitored daily by local health authorities. Ninety-one Dutch citizens were aboard the Holland America Line cruise liner, a spokesman for the RIVM said by phone. He couldn’t confirm the number of Dutch passengers who had already returned to the Netherlands.
  9. You are absolutely correct. When I visited last year, I thought the people were wonderful but the city was among the worst ports I'd ever visited. And, yes, had I been on the Westerdam it would looked like Tahiti to me. This is from the New York Times "52 Places to Visit in 2018" series -- see https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/travel/luang-prabang-cambodia-coast.html?searchResultPosition=1 Cambodia’s changing coast No streetlights, no signs of human life were visible as my taxi inched in the dark toward Sihanoukville. This seaside city is one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations on the Cambodian coast, and I had braced myself for an onslaught of neon. Instead, at 9:30 p.m., all I could see was dust billowing behind us, on a highway where pavement was more of an idea than a reality. That eeriness was enveloping as I settled into my sleek, all-white hotel, Naia Resort, with diagonal outdoor walkways stacked one on top of another, like gills. It felt as if I were in a “Miami Vice”-type building that had been dropped onto the set of “Lost.” Outside, barking dogs cased the sandy road. At the only open restaurant — which was right on the beach, with waves lapping at my table — a bat flew into my arm. When morning broke, the nothingness revealed itself to be a landscape of construction sites. Three high-rises were going up next to, across from, and cater-corner to Naia. Piles of trash adorned those dusty roads. I had, quite by accident, chosen to stay on Sihanoukville’s Otres 2 Beach, where it is still possible to take a lazy walk, sun yourself and take a paddleboard lesson without feeling like you’re in a tourist hot spot. But you can see the end of all that on the horizon. Eighteen months ago, I’d heard, the area 10 minutes down the coast, where Sihanoukville’s Otres 1 and Occheuteal Beaches now sit, had been all beach shacks and fishermen selling their catches from baskets on top of their heads. Now the place — called “the new Macau” by its developers — is blanketed in Chinese-built casinos and high-rises. A Chinatown is being built between Otres 1 and Otres 2. Infrastructure, especially roads, hasn’t kept pace with development. Growth is so rapid, one expat told me, that he went looking for a crab shack he’d visited three months earlier and found a brand-new neighborhood in its place. Taxi drivers and hotel workers I spoke with sounded dismayed, commonly using the word “sad” to describe the state of their city. They told me about drunken fights and a rampant sex trade. Real estate prices have tripled, and the Chinese bring in their own labor rather than hire Cambodians, they said. Villagers no longer have beaches to go to, and the worry is that pretty soon they’ll no longer have villages. The Cambodian coast, but particularly this western portion, had earned a spot on the Times’s 52 Places to Go in 2018 list because increased direct flights (some originating in China) to the Sihanoukville airport were making beach getaways more accessible. This year, too, Six Senses and Alila Hotels were supposed to open new resorts on two private islands, Krabey and Koh Russey, with jetties 10 minutes from the Sihanoukville airport. Neither will fully open until 2019, but I visited them both and was impressed, not only by the facilities, but also by their commitment to hire Cambodians and keep their environmental footprint light. Sometimes you have to know when a place is not for you. That night, I opted to move on to Kep, a quiet coastal town far to the east of Sihanoukville, even if it wasn’t technically on the 52 Places list and involved a four-hour, bumpy nighttime drive. As the sun set, I felt like I was seeing Cambodia for the first time, as I passed villagers carting bundles of hay on their motorbikes while chatting on cellphones. (The article continues with a discussion about Kep.)
  10. I got an e-mail this morning from a volunteer guide we had engaged to show us around one of the Japanese ports (distant from Yokohama). We have had good communication with her about logistics, our interests, what to see and so on. She wrote, "I'm concerned about the coronavirus spreading in Japan. The situation is getting worse day by day in Japan. So I suggest that I suspend my guiding for your tour in (Port), since the security or possibility of spreading coronavirus is not secured. If things get better, it might be possible. What do you think about it?" I suppose I am going to tell her that we pose no risk, but we will not press her to guide us if she is fearful. But the larger point is this: It indicates to me that the Diamond Princess situation has poisoned any conversation regarding the Westerdam. The government must be wary of the political implications of lifting the ban, particularly with the Olympics drawing near in a nation that wants to present its best face to the world. Apparently the Westerdam is the "last ship standing" with a plan to visit Japan, and at this point it would be not cause a big ripple in the tourism sector to exclude us. I am less hopeful today that we will visit.
  11. Lots of good information here, and it does not make me confident that Westerdam will resume in Yokohama on Feb. 29. Quarantined Cruise Passengers Have Many Questions. Japan Has Few Answers. Critics say the government is making a coronavirus episode worse by not being more forthcoming. By Motoko Rich and Ben Dooley New York Times Published Feb. 11, 2020 Updated Feb. 12, 2020, 5:09 p.m. ET TOKYO — The 3,600 people aboard the Diamond Princess, locked down for more than a week and desperate for information, have been reduced to peering out windows as hazmat-suited workers take away the newest coronavirus patients and mysterious buses, their interiors shrouded by curtains, come and go from the port. They have Wi-Fi, but it is spotty, and even if it were not, they might search in vain for information about their plight from tight-lipped Japanese authorities. Experts in crisis management said the government was offering a textbook example of how not to handle a public health crisis. “Repeatedly explain what is known, and what is unknown, and when people can get more information about what remains unknown,” said Dr. Hana Hayashi, a public health strategist at McCann Healthcare Worldwide Japan. “It sounds very simple, but by continuing to do this, people’s concerns will be reduced.” With 174 of their number known to be infected — the most cases anywhere outside China — one of the biggest questions for those stuck on the Diamond Princess off Yokohama is: Why won’t Japan test everyone on board for the virus? As of Tuesday, only 439 had been tested, and the Japanese authorities have sent mixed messages. For days, officials have said the country simply does not have the ability to test everyone on the ship. But on Tuesday, as demands grew, Dr. Masami Sakoi, an assistant health minister, said at a news briefing that the health ministry was considering expanding its testing capacity. Japan’s insistence that it is an issue of practicality has been met with some skepticism. Critics of the government’s handling of the outbreak say that officials simply are not explaining enough of their thinking as they face an epidemiological challenge with no easy playbook. The government’s communications strategy has undermined trust, and speculation has sometimes filled the void, including about whether there could be alternatives to keeping so many people locked inside a contaminated vessel. “Here you have people locked down on a pseudo prison on a cruise ship,” said Kyle Cleveland, a professor of sociology at the Tokyo campus of Temple University who has studied Japan’s response to another crisis, the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns. “Is it really a matter of not having enough tests?” In China, after all, where more than 44,000 people have been infected and deaths have surpassed 1,100, health officials are performing thousands of coronavirus tests a day. Unlike Japan, China has been confronting the outbreak since December, and has had time to produce test kits. Even so, it is contending with a shortage. Some passengers say that if it were just a matter of logistics, Japan could look for outside help. “I’d prefer if our countries pitch in and help test everyone,” said Vera Koslova-Fu, an Australian on the ship. Still, there is far from universal agreement that Japan should test everyone on board the Diamond Princess, even if it could. Olivia Lawe-Davies, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, said that its experts agreed with the way Japan was handling the quarantine. “No country or entity has had to manage this novel coronavirus, for which there are still many unknowns, on an international conveyance with this many people,” she said. “The most important thing is to ensure that people who are ill receive proper treatment, which the Japanese authorities are doing.” Some infectious disease experts questioned whether testing everyone on board would in fact be effective. “In reality, people are in the incubation period right now,” said Mitsuyoshi Urashima, a professor of molecular epidemiology at Jikei University Hospital in Tokyo. “The tests are not absolutely always right.” (Proof of that came from a different set of coronavirus patients on Tuesday. The health ministry announced that two Japanese citizens who had previously tested negative after leaving Wuhan, China, where the epidemic began, were now infected.) The tests themselves pose their own obstacles. They are not simple throat swabs, but instead require cells from hard-to-reach parts of the respiratory tract. The simplest test, a nasopharyngeal swab, “is not surgery, but it comes close,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. “It’s an aggressive medical procedure.” The alternative requires pumping saline solution deep into the lungs. “You could not do it on healthy people by the thousands, or just go from cabin to cabin doing it,” Dr. Schaffner said. Both procedures are risky for the medical personnel doing them, because they can send the patient into a retching or coughing fit, spewing out virus. And even then, he said, concerns would remain. “I’m sure a lot of people on board think, ‘If I’m negative, I’m cleared,’” Dr. Schaffner said. “It’s not that — you could be positive tomorrow.” Even if the tests are not scientifically warranted, some public health experts said, they might help calm anxious people on the ship. “If it puts people’s minds at ease, it has merit,” said Eiji Kusumi, a doctor specializing in infectious diseases at Navitas Clinic in Tokyo. “We’re dealing with people who are operating out of emotion.” One passenger, Sarah Arana, a 52-year-old medical social worker from Paso Robles, Calif., said, “I think it would provide peace of mind.” Peace of mind has been hard to come by for many passengers, in no small part because of the Japanese government’s limited communications. Passengers isolated in their cabins have been checking their phones for news updates and social media posts, while their families back home are frantically pressing for information. By failing to hold regular and timely news briefings and doling out cryptic information, the government “has made the problem seem much larger than it looks,” said Hiromi Murakami, an expert on health policy at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. “It’s mostly bureaucrats who have to deal with a lot of things, and they don’t know how to respond sometimes,” Ms. Murakami said. “They’re not used to dealing with questions. They don’t know how to answer them, and they think if they can’t answer them, what’s the purpose of having a press conference. So they avoid these situations.” That may soon prove harder to do. Experts say the Diamond Princess may be only the beginning of Japan’s challenges with the coronavirus. “Probably it’s a tiny portion of our problem in Japan,” said Hitoshi Oshitani, a professor of virology at Tohoku University. “If we have a few hundred cases in Japan and there are probably thousands of contacts around these few hundred, the numbers will increase every day.” The government has been saying little. On Sunday and Monday, it waited hours to confirm that there were new infections on board, even as the captain of the Diamond Princess announced them to the ship. By Wednesday, Japanese officials moved more quickly to say that 39 additional passengers had tested positive and that a health ministry employee had also been diagnosed with the illness after administering a survey to those aboard the ship. Still, rumors abound. Early Tuesday, Japanese news outlets reported that the health authorities were considering taking some elderly passengers off the ship, but officials refused to comment. Passengers on the ship could see that at least two buses, their windows covered in curtains, had pulled up to the port, and claims spread that some people were being allowed to leave. In the absence of official communication, some have found their own way to communicate: Japanese passengers, who make up about half of the 2,666 guests on board, unfurled cloth signs off their balconies. “Serious lack of medicine, lack of information,” read one.
  12. HAL doubles down -- says Mar. 14-28 leg still on; $100 pp OBC and 50% Future Cruise Credit (FCC 100% for cancellations) Received Feb. 11, 11:35 p.m. Eastern. Similar notice went out for the Feb. 29-March 14 leg a few days ago. Dear Valued Guest: We look forward to welcoming you on board Westerdam for our now round-trip Yokohama (Tokyo) voyage. We continue to closely monitor the evolving situation with respect to the new coronavirus that originated in mainland China and wish to reassure you that our medical experts are coordinating closely with global health authorities. For more information, please see the updated Guest Health Advisory attached to this letter. Please be advised that guests who have traveled from or through mainland China, Macau, or Hong Kong within 14 days of the start of their cruise (including transit through their airports), or had contact with a suspected or confirmed case of novel coronavirus or a person who is under monitoring for coronavirus in the last 14 days prior to sailing will not be permitted to board the ship. If you will fall into one of these categories, please call us at the number below to process a cancellation and refund prior to sailing. Shipboard staff will be scanning guest passports to verify transit through any of the prohibited areas. Given the serious nature of these circumstances, false responses on pre-boarding documents will result in immediate grounds for disembarkation at the next opportunity. Guests who do not disclose travel through prohibited areas in Asia may also face additional legal consequences. As this is a rapidly evolving situation, we are currently evaluating the port calls on your voyage and anticipate that there may be additional changes to your itinerary as countries adjust their entry criteria. In recognition of the changes to your voyage, each guest who sails will now receive a Future Cruise Credit equal to 50% of the base cruise fare paid for this 14-day voyage, rather than the 20% previously offered. The terms and conditions of this credit are detailed below. Although not a replacement for the missed ports, it is our sincere hope that the Future Cruise Credit will help you to create new cruise memories with us in the near future. As previously communicated, each guest who sails will receive a $100 onboard credit. The onboard credit may be used toward all purchases in the bars, boutiques, and photo gallery, as well as specialty dining, spa treatments and shore excursions. (Cannot be redeemed for cash or used in the Casino.) Should you have incurred expenses related to adjusting your embarkation flights, we will reimburse up to $250 in air change fees. Please present proof of change fees at Guest Services once you are on board for review by our corporate office to be refunded in onboard credit. We understand this may not be the cruise vacation you anticipated, and some guests may prefer not to travel at this time. Should you choose to defer your travel and cancel your cruise you will receive a 100% Future Cruise Credit (excluding independent travel expenses) that can be used on a replacement cruise that sails within 12 months. The terms and conditions of this Future Cruise Credit are listed below. We regret this disruption to your vacation plans and appreciate your understanding. Please refer to the attached Health Advisory for more information about the steps Holland America Line is taking to safeguard our guests and precautions you can take to reduce your risk of contracting a respiratory illness. Should you have any questions, please contact us at the appropriate office: Seattle Office (USD/CAD currency): Contact us at 1-800-577-1729 or 206-626-7385. We are available Monday – Friday, 7:00am – 5:00pm PT. Rotterdam Office (EUR currency): Contact us at 00800 1873 1873. We are available Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 6:00pm. For Netherlands contact us at 0800 724 5425. We are available Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 6:00pm. Southampton Office (GBP currency): Contact us at 0344 338 8605. We are available Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 6:00pm. Sydney Office (AUD currency): Contact us at 1300 987 322. We are available Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 7:00pm, Thursday 8:30am – 8:00pm. Thank you for your attention to this important information and for choosing Holland America Line. We are eager to welcome you on board and remain, as always, at your service. Kind regards, Holland America Line Health Advisory - Coronavirus Dear Valued Guest: To protect the health and safety of all onboard, we are closely monitoring the evolving situation with respect to the new coronavirus that originated in mainland China. Our medical experts are coordinating closely with international health authorities and have activated enhanced screening, prevention and control procedures for our ships to keep guests and crew safe. To limit the spread of the illness, health authorities in China have restricted travel across many cities in the affected areas, cancelled mass public gatherings and are conducting airport arrival screening. The global health response has adopted similar measures, including entry restrictions and screening requirements for travelers from affected areas. We have also adopted measures intended to keep you safe. These include: Any individual who has traveled from or through mainland China, Macau, or Hong Kong within 14 days of the start of their cruise, (including transit through their airports), will not be permitted to board the ship. Shipboard staff will be scanning guest passports to verify transit through any of the prohibited areas. Given the serious nature of these circumstances, false responses on pre-boarding documents will result in immediate grounds for disembarkation at the next opportunity. Guests who do not disclose travel through prohibited areas in Asia may also face additional legal consequences. Any individual who has been in contact with a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus or a person under monitoring for coronavirus within 14 days of the start of the cruise, will not be permitted to board the ship. Pre-Boarding medical evaluations, including temperature checks, for persons with fever or respiratory symptoms with travel from or through an affected area. Standard pre-boarding health reporting for all guests advising them of their obligation to report any illness symptoms. Medical screening for coronavirus on all guests who visit our onboard Medical Center with symptoms of respiratory illness. Reporting to local and national health authorities of all cases of fever and respiratory illness, and any patients with suspected coronavirus infection. Crew members from China will be delayed from joining any ship until further notice. Environmental disinfection onboard will be performed in addition to our regular stringent cleaning and sanitation protocols. As with all respiratory illnesses, particularly during cold and flu season, you can take steps to reduce your risk of illness: • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. • Where soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. • Avoid close contact with people suffering from respiratory illness. • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. • Get vaccinated against seasonal influenza. If you experience any symptoms of respiratory illness which may include fever or feverishness, chills, cough, or shortness of breath, please contact the Medical Center. Updated information on the illness and travel advice, can be found at the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html Novel Coronavirus 2019, Wuhan, China | CDC The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to closely monitor an outbreak of 2019-nCoV in Wuhan City, China. This HAN Update provides a situational update and guidance to state and local health departments and health care providers ... www.cdc.gov . Please be aware that as the situation is changing rapidly, you may be required to undergo additional health screening measures by local health officials before you disembark at any of the ports we visit, and entry requirements are subject to change. If any revisions need to be made to our itinerary due to travel restrictions, or to protect the health and safety of our guests and crew, we will update you as soon as possible. Thank you for taking the time to read this important information, and we thank you for your understanding and continued support. Yours in health, Dr. Grant Tarling Chief Medical Officer For Guests Who Sail Future Cruise Credit (FCC) Terms & Conditions The value of this credit may be applied to the cruise fare only of a new cruise or Land+Sea Journey reservation with Holland America Line, and it is combinable with any other applicable discount. While the credit is valid for one year from the date of this email, please note that it needs only to be applied to the new booking by that time; the cruise does not need to depart within this timeframe. Although you may choose any stateroom category, this offer is dependent upon space availability and cannot be transferred, refunded, or used as a deposit. This credit may not be used for onboard expenses, pre- and post-cruise packages, shore excursions, taxes, Cancellation Protection Plans, Home City Air, Hotel Service Charges, or other optional programs or services. We ask that you or your travel professional verify this offer with our Reservation Agent at the time your new reservation is placed. For your convenience, the credit is built in direct association with Mariner Society numbers so it will automatically be credited toward the cruise fare of the next Holland America Line sailing booked. For Guests Who Choose to Cancel Future Cruise Credit (FCC) Terms & Conditions The value of this credit may be applied to the cruise fare only of a new cruise or Land+Sea Journey reservation with Holland America Line, and it is combinable with any other applicable discount. The credit is valid for a cruise departing within one year from the date of this email. Although you may choose any stateroom category, this offer is dependent upon space availability and cannot be transferred, refunded, or used as a deposit. This credit may not be used for onboard expenses, pre- and post-cruise packages, shore excursions, taxes, Cancellation Protection Plans, Home City Air, Hotel Service Charges, or other optional programs or services. We ask that you or your travel professional verify this offer with our Reservation Agent at the time your new reservation is placed. For your convenience, the credit is built in direct association with Mariner Society numbers so it will automatically be credited toward the cruise fare of the next Holland America Line sailing booked.
  13. Q&A: How coronavirus is impacting cruises and passengers The new coronavirus is wreaking havoc on Asia's cruises By DEE-ANN DURBIN and DAVID KOENIG AP Business Writers February 11, 2020, 3:24 PM The new coronavirus is wreaking havoc on cruises in Asia, where some passengers are stranded aboard ships and others can't leave China. Japan's health ministry has confirmed 135 cases of the virus aboard Carnival Corp.'s Diamond Princess, which is docked in Yokohama, Japan. The ship's 3,700 passengers and crew are expected to remain under quarantine until at least Feb. 19. Meanwhile, Holland America's Westerdam — which says it has no confirmed cases of the virus — is floating in the Gulf of Thailand with nowhere to dock. The ship's 2,257 passengers and crew had expected to disembark in Thailand on Thursday, but on Tuesday Thai authorities announced that the ship wasn't welcome. Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines have also refused to let the ship dock because it made a stop in Hong Kong less than two weeks ago. Here are some questions and answers about the virus's impact on the cruise industry and passengers: HOW MANY CRUISE SHIPS ARE IN ASIA RIGHT NOW? The Cruise Lines International Association — which represents around 90% of global cruise capacity — says around 10 of its 272 member ships are currently in Asia. Only the Diamond Princess has confirmed cases of coronavirus, the association said. Six of the 10 ships have cancelled their itineraries for the time being, including Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas and MSC's Splendida. HAVE ANY SHIPS BEEN ALLOWED TO LET PASSENGERS OFF? Yes. On Sunday, Dream Cruises said passengers on its World Dream were cleared to disembark in Hong Kong after screenings found no positive tests for the virus. The ship had arrived in Hong Kong four days earlier. In Italy, more than 6,600 passengers and crew were allowed to disembark from Carnival's Costa Smeralda on Jan. 31 after a Chinese passenger was found to have the flu and not the virus. ARE CRUISE SHIPS BANNING SOME PASSENGERS FROM BOARDING? Yes. Policies vary, but in general, cruise companies won't allow passengers or crew to board if they have visited, traveled from or passed through airports in China, Hong Kong and Macau within a certain time period — usually 14 days or 30 days. They also aren't allowing people to board if they have been in close contact with someone with the virus. Royal Caribbean was banning all passengers with passports from China, Hong Kong and Macau, but the company lifted that ban Monday. Norwegian Cruise Lines is still banning passengers who hold those passports. IS A QUARANTINE THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE A VIRAL OUTBREAK ON A CRUISE? According to Tara Smith, a professor who researches infectious diseases at Kent State University's College of Public Health, a hospital — not a ship — is the best place to keep people quarantined. The Diamond Princess may have already had environmental contamination when the quarantine began, which puts passengers and crew at risk of further transmission. “I think this was done without a lot of thought to consequences of ongoing transmission within the ship and the mental health of the passengers,” Smith said. WHAT OTHER PRECAUTIONS ARE CRUISE LINES TAKING? Cruise lines are scanning the temperatures of passengers and crew and having them complete questionnaires before they board any ship. MSC says it's conducting elevated deep-cleaning on its ships; Royal Caribbean also says it has stepped up cleaning of its ships and air filtration systems. CAN PASSENGERS CATCH THE VIRUS THROUGH THE VENTILATION SYSTEMS? Japanese health ministry official Masami Sakoi said the cabins on the Diamond Princess have separate air conditioning systems, so guests aren't sharing the same air. “We do not consider the air conditioning system as the cause of spreading infections," he said. WHAT IS LIFE LIKE FOR PASSENGERS ABOARD THESE SHIPS? Christina Kerby, a communications director with a health care company in San Francisco, struck an upbeat tone in her Twitter posts aboard the Westerdam. She says the ship is holding spin classes, magic shows and towel folding demonstrations. But she expressed regret when Philippine crew members couldn't disembark in Manila and see their families, as they'd hoped. The situation is more grim aboard the Diamond Princess, where those under quarantine watched as officials in hazmat suits carried their fellow passengers away. Passenger David Abel has described the ship as a “floating prison.” WHEN WILL CRUISE OPERATIONS RETURN TO NORMAL? That's unclear. Royal Caribbean has cancelled eight China sailings through March 4. Princess Cruises has cancelled 12 cruises through March 20. Holland America said it's weighing port restrictions in Asia before deciding on a cruise scheduled to leave Yokohama on Feb. 29. Norwegian Cruise Lines has canceled scheduled Asian cruises on the Norwegian Spirit through Dec. 7. In some cases, cruises are being rerouted. Norwegian said a 24-day cruise leaving South Africa on March 22 that was supposed to end in Singapore will now last 27 days and end in Greece, for example. HOW MUCH WILL THIS IMPACT CRUISE COMPANIES? Asia is not yet a major destination for cruises. This year, around 10% of cruise ships worldwide were scheduled to be deployed to Asia, according to Cruise Lines International Association. That's down slightly from 2017, and compares to 32% deployed to the Caribbean and 28% to Europe and the Mediterranean. The virus may not have much impact on cruise bookings outside of Asia, says UBS analyst Robin Farley. Past experience shows that concerns about viruses usually remain regional, she said. Cruise companies could be hurt by lower passenger volumes coming out of Asia, however. The association said its members expected 4.2 million passengers from Asia this year, or 12.5% of all passengers. That would be up from 3.4 million in 2016. But even if 2020 passenger volumes from Asia are lower than expected, they can recover quickly. In 2015, a viral outbreak in Korea hurt demand for cruises from China. But by 2016, Korea was once again a top destination for Chinese travelers, Farley said.
  14. This new story indicates Thai social media users went nuts after HAL announced the Westerdam would go to Bangkok, so it seems political pressure came into play in Thailand's reversal. HAL had said earlier there was another port possibility, so incredibly, the best thing might be to keep it quiet and slip in under cover of night. A real mystery cruise. Thailand yields to virus fears, bars docking of cruise ship Associated Press Feb. 11, 2020 at 6:19 a.m. EST BANGKOK — Thai health authorities have barred a cruise ship from docking that has already been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan out of concern over a new virus, although no cases have been confirmed on board. The chief of the Department of Disease Control, Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, said Tuesday that the Public Health Ministry had rejected a request from the crew of the MS Westerdam to dock at Laem Chabang in eastern Thailand. He said the ministry will further consider how to deal with the ship’s situation. It began its cruise on Jan. 16 in Singapore. Shipowner Holland America Line says there are no known cases of the virus on board. The virus has caused problems for the cruise industry. Japan’s health ministry has confirmed 135 cases of the disease aboard Carnival Corp.’s Diamond Princess, which is docked in Yokohama, Japan. The ship’s 3,700 passengers and crew are expected to remain under quarantine until at least Feb. 19. Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakulhad indicated on his Facebook page several hours before the official announcement that the ship would be denied entry. He posted his declaration after Holland America announced it was sailing to Laem Chabang, where passengers would disembark on Feb. 13 to take flights home from Bangkok. The announcement by the shipowner attracted much attention among Thai social media users. Holland America had already announced that passengers would receive a complete refund. It said a scheduled departure of the Westerdam on Feb. 15 from Yokohama had been canceled and planned departures after Feb. 28 were being assessed.
  15. Unfortunately (in this case), Reuters is a pretty reputable news organization. Gotta hope this is just one bureaucrat getting out ahead of his skis..... BANGKOK, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Thailand has barred passengers from Holland America’s cruise ship MS Westerdam from disembarking, its health minister said on Tuesday, the latest country to turn it away amid fears of the coronavirus despite no confirmed infections aboard. The company, owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp, had said on Monday that passengers would disembark in Bangkok on Feb. 13 and that there was no reason to believe anybody aboard had the virus. “I have issued orders. Permission to dock refused,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a Facebook post. The Westerdam has already been turned away from several countries, including Japan, the Philippines and Thailand, amid fears of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,000 people and infected more than 40,000 since it was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan less than two months ago. Holland America says no one on board has the virus. Media reports say it carries 1,455 passengers and 802 crew; its original destination was Yokohama, Japan, which refused it permission to dock. “The ship is not in quarantine and we have no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board despite media reports,” the company said. It had earlier said the Westerdam was sailing toward Bangkok, and it is not immediately clear whether the ship would change course. Another cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, with 3,700 passengers and crew onboard, is quarantined in the Japanese port of Yokohama, with 135 cases of coronavirus detected on the Carnival Corp-owned vessel. Most of the coronavirus cases have been inside China, but there have been 319 cases in 24 other countries, including one death, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday. (Reporting by Juarawee Kittisilpa; Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Kim Coghill)
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