THE Ministry of Health has decided not to discharge cruise ship workers from the Enchantment of the Seas vessel. Instead, they will be moved to a state-quarantine facility to be monitored for another “short” incubation period beginning Tuesday.
This decision was taken after nine covid19 cases were recorded from onboard the ship. A release by the ministry said this move was made “out of an abundance of caution,” and “this step is being taken to ensure the continued safety of these nationals, their families and the population at large.”
In the first swab, on June 14, six people tested positive. Days later, another four people were taken off the ship for non-covid19 medical issues. The group was swabbed on Thursday and was expected to be released on Saturday, once a second negative was recorded.
But on Friday, an additional case was reported and in less than 24 hours, two more cases were confirmed. They were transported to the Caura Hospital.
The ministry said after a meeting with the Ministry of National Security, management of the Enchantment of the Seas, and the Port Authority, it was decided to move the group off the ship and on land, to a state quarantine facility. “This is to facilitate the continued monitoring of these nationals. The nationals will be held in quarantine, for a short period, where another round of PCR tests will be conducted during this week.
“Upon receipt and review of these results, a determination will be made as to when they can be safely reunited with their families,” the release stated.
On Saturday morning one man onboard the vessel told Newsday they were told to pack their stuff to leave the vessel. He said he was excited to return to his family. But cruise workers weren’t told of the ministry’s decision to move them into an on-land facility until Saturday afternoon.
After the news broke, the man told Newsday that anger soon spread among those on the vessel. “We cool eh, but some other people are not comfortable with it. The government didn’t keep up their end of the deal.” The agreement, he said, was 14 days quarantine in rooms and "once we test negative two times we get to go home."
"We do 16 days, two days more. Although they say there are confirmed cases why are they still holding those who tested negative twice on board? Why must we go somewhere else to quarantine all over again? We tested negative twice, let us go home to our families just like the others who also tested negative twice,” the man said.
At a virtual press conference on May 1, Parasram said cruise ships have proven to be "breeding grounds” and, “high risk facilities” for infectious diseases including covid19. He said covid19 may continue to lurk on-board and without personal hygiene protocols and testing, it can spread rapidly among passengers and crew members.
When contacted on Sunday for more information as to why a decision was made to extend the quarantine period for the group, even though they presented two negatives during 14-day isolation, Parasram said the issue will be discussed at the Health Ministry's virtual press conference on Monday.