The visit of cruise ship AIDAperla after it had been refused by several other destinations in the region due to illness on board was the talk of the town on Tuesday. Many worried that its passengers could bring the current deadly coronavirus outbreak to the island.
Authorities in Philipsburg explained that only four persons were sick and quarantined on the vessel, two with gastroenteritis and two showing “symptoms not consistent with the coronavirus” that were – however – not specified.
They also said the decision was taken after receiving the maritime health declaration prior to the ship’s arrival. But the Health Ministry in Antigua – as quoted in The Daily Observer – apparently thought the declaration was insufficient and requested more data which could not be provided on time; hence, the vessel was not allowed to dock there.
The local government said the same happened in St. Lucia, but supposedly because they feared that should many people become ill onboard it might be too much for their medical services to handle, not out of concern for the coronavirus. It’s also fair to say that the two-week cruise starting in the Dominican Republic did call on Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent and Guadeloupe.
The effect of checking with the other islands about any reported coronavirus cases there would have been limited, because the incubation period of the disease is up to 12 days and symptoms can be vague or mild. It’s thus always possible an infected person disembarks any incoming airplane or ship, but if the basic information provided in this case was correct it seemed like a very limited and therefore reasonable risk.