Cruise ship has not applied to enter Thailand
If allowed in, vessel would be quarantined
published : 12 Feb 2020 at 13:07
writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
The Marine Department on Wednesday confirmed the cruise ship Westerdam had not yet sought permission to enter Thailand, having already been refused entry by three other countries due to fears of coronavirus infections on board.
The department's statement did not rule out the possibility the Westerdam would be allowed to dock after completing quarantine requirements.
If the operator, Holland America Line, made an application the department would consult with the Disease Control Department, the Public Health Ministry, the Customs Department and the Immigration Bureau.
It was normal procedure to notify the Marine Safety and Environment Bureau, the Vessel Traffic Control and Maritime Security Office and a marine regional office where a foreign vessel would be docked, the statement said.
If allowed into Thailand, the ship would be moored in a quarantine area offshore pending checks by disease control and public health officials before being allowed to dock at a port.
The announcement followed unconfirmed reports on social media that the Westerdam, with 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, would dock at Laem Chabang on Thursday. It was earlier refused entry by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan due to concerns passengers may be carrying to the deadly virus.
The cruise ship left Hong Kong on Feb 1, and is still off the southern coast of Vietnam.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that while the vessel would not be allowed to dock, Thailand was ready to help the people on board.
The Public Health Ministry said it was ready to send medical staff to the port if requested, the head of the Department of Disease Control said.
The Cruise Ship Professionals Association on Tuesday called for all agencies to offer help to the passengers and crew of the cruise ship in line with humanitarian principles.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the ministry would be willing to provide humanitarian aid for the Westerdam.
Although the World Health Organisation confirmed there were no people infected with the coronavirus on board, the ministry had to double-check first, for the safety of people of Thailand.
On Monday, Mr Anutin posted a Facebook message, saying he had directed authorities not to allow the Westerdam to dock in Thailand.
Holland Line earlier told passengers the ship was heading for Laem Chabang, where the disrupted cruise would end, and they would disembark and be flown home from Bangkok.