According to US officials, the 1,300 people could disembark up to four days.
After wandering for days, after being rejected by several ports because it was carrying passengers with coronavirus, the cruise ship “Zaandam” was finallyAuthorized to dock in Florida, Thursday, April 2.
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“The Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, health officials and Broward County have reached a decision to allow the cruise ships Zaandam and (his deputy) Rotterdam to dock at Port Everglades”in the Fort Lauderdale area, the mayor of this American city announced on Twitter.
The Coast Guard, Homeland Security, health officials, and Broward County have reached a decision to allow the #Zaandam and #Rotterdam cruise ships to dock at @PortEverglades, ending a journey in which many on board became ill and showed symptoms of #COVID ー 19. My full comments ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/MmrZBcBZi0
– Dean Trantalis (@DeanTrantalis) April 2, 2020
“I am very happy to be able to share this good news with you (…). Your journey back home may soon begin”, the captain of the Rotterdam, Bas Van Dreumel, told the passengers, according to an audio message sent to AFP by one of them.
The fate of “Zaandam”, which has four dead on board, was the subject of difficult negotiations in Florida. The governor of this state where many retirees reside, Ron DeSantis, initially opposed his arrival, saying that he did not want to see himself “refourguer” patients who would exhaust local resources in front of the Covid-19. He then backed off, telling Fox News that he hadn't realized there were Americans on board.
President Donald Trump has recognized the need to evacuate passengers. “We have to help people. They are in trouble”, he said, announcing that the British and Canadians among them would be evacuated.
Epidemiologist Anthony Fauci, responsible for advising the White House on the coronavirus, has also weighed on the subject. “We have to take care of sick people. We just have to do it. And as soon as possible”said the expert, calling for the evacuation of healthy people.
The two ships carry 1,243 passengers, including 305 Americans and 257 Canadians, and 1,247 crew members. According to the landing plan, around 1,200 people who are not sick could fly home. They would be transported in vehicles “disinfected, with limited contact between people, and they would wear masks”. Foreign nationals will be transported by bus to the airport, “but they will not go inside the airport. They will go directly on the plane”.
Broward County official Barbara Sharief says the 1,200 healthy people could land as long as four days. Some 45 people with mild symptoms would remain on board in solitary confinement until recovery, according to the plan. The Zaandam, which left Buenos Aires on March 7, was due to end its trip to Chile on March 21, but had to change course due to the virus.