Topline: Vietnam has barred two cruises from docking in its ports as a “temporary” measure to prevent the Covid-19 spread despite no cases being reported onboard the vessels, in the latest sign that the $45 billion cruise industry is reeling from fears about the pneumonia-like illness.
- The German-owned AIDAvita, carrying 1,100 passengers, was blocked by local authorities from docking in Quang Ninh province after traveling from ports in the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, where coronavirus infections are present.
- A spokesman for AIDA said in an email: “There are no suspected cases or confirmed corona viral diseases on board AIDAvita. No guest or crew on board has been in China in the last 14 days.”
- The vessel, which left the Philippines on February 10, will now dock at Thailand’s Laem Chabang port, the same port that rejected the Holland America Westerdam vessel earlier this week.
- Holland American Line said it would expense all passengers’ flights home and refund the cost of the cruise aboard the Westerdam, which was finally allowed to dock in Cambodia Thursday; the expense is expected to cost Holland America Line around $4 million, according to the New York Times.
- The Norwegian Jade cruise ship has also been blocked from docking in Vietnam over growing concerns about the coronavirus.
Big number: Some 63,000 people worldwide are now infected with the virus, while almost 1,400 have died, including three outside of China. Japan recorded its first Covid-19 death on Thursday, a woman in her 80s who lived near Tokyo.
- The impact of the illness on medical workers is becoming clearer. Some 1,716 workers are infected, while six have died, according to Zeng Yixin, a senior Chinese health official.
- “The duties of medical workers at the [frontline] are extremely heavy; their working and resting circumstances are extremely limited, the psychological pressures are great, and the risk of infection is high,” he said at a press conference, Reuters reported.
Surprising fact: Airline KLM has been forced to apologise after crew on a flight from Amsterdam to South Korea wrote a notice saying that the toilet onboard was for crew only, to protect workers from coronavirus.
Key background: Covid-19 cases have seen a sharp rise this week after officials in Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, changed the way they test for and classify Covid-19 infections. The $45 billion cruise industry has been particularly impacted by coronavirus fears, after the Carnival-owned Diamond Princess cruise ship docked outside Tokyo became the biggest cluster of coronavirus cases outside of mainland China. At least 2,018 onboard the vessel were infected with the pneumonia-like illness, and taken to hospital. Some of the 3,700 passengers who test negative for Covid-19 are allowed to disembark on Friday, but must continue a quarantine in lodgings provided by the government. Royal Caribbean Cruises, which has some of the world’s largest cruise ships, has cancelled 18 cruises. Air travel to China has also been curtailed by some international airlines, with the U.N estimating that the industry could lose up to $5 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2020 as a result.