The Zaandam, the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship that spent 12 days stranded at sea with no ports willing to let it dock, has pulled into Fort Lauderdale harbour to the cheers of port workers.
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THE pair of cruise ships carrying passengers with flu-like symptoms docked into Port Everglades last night, ending a nightmarish voyage disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
An agreement between the cruise line and local and federal authorities will allow healthy passengers to go home while the sick remain on board for treatment.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis sought to address concerns over the possible spread of the virus.
“Holland America agreed to a strict set of protocols if the county decided to allow the ships to dock,” he said via Twitter Thursday afternoon, referring to the agreement involving the cruise line, US Coast Guard, Homeland Security, state and federal health officials and Broward County.
“Given the county’s decision to allow the ships here, I believe these regulations present a humanitarian solution for those on board while providing strong safeguards for our community,” the mayor said.
The Zaandam’s South American itinerary changed dramatically when nine passengers tested positive for Covid-19 and four men died on board. Sharief said the men were over the age of 70 – two had been diagnosed with Covid-19, one suffered a heart attack and another succumbed to a pre-existing illness.
Broward County mayor Dale Holness told reporters that 26 passengers with possible coronavirus symptoms will remain on the ships. Additionally, 13 passengers and one crew member will be treated at a local hospital, at one time more than 200 guests and crew had flu-like symptoms.
Holness said about 1,200 guests “deemed well and fit to travel,” per CDC guidelines, will be given masks and transported by private buses directly to the tarmac at Fort Lauderdale International Airport for five charter flights home Friday night and Saturday. They will undergo two layers of health screening.
“Our top consideration is the health of our community as well as those on board,” he said. “It shows the good side of Broward County.”