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Cruise ship subject of coronavirus fears anchors off Cambodia

The ship had been turned away from four countries.

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The MS Westerdam, owned by Holland America Line, sails off a port of Sihanoukville (Heng Sinith/AP)

The MS Westerdam, owned by Holland America Line, sails off a port of Sihanoukville (Heng Sinith/AP)

The MS Westerdam, owned by Holland America Line, sails off a port of Sihanoukville (Heng Sinith/AP)

A cruise ship turned away by four Asian and Pacific governments due to fears about a strain of coronavirus has anchored off Cambodia.

The Westerdam was refused permission to dock in the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand but ship owner Holland America Line said there were no known cases of the Covid-19 virus on board.

Health checks will now be carried out on the 2,200 passengers and crew on board the ship which is in waters outside Sihanoukville.

US Ambassador Warren Patrick Murphy said he sent an embassy team to work with the ship’s representatives and Cambodian officials to help Americans disembark and transfer to their onward destinations.

“We have also coordinated with foreign embassies of other nationalities,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Westerdam’s cruise will end in Sihanoukville and passengers can take charter flights to the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, to return home, Holland America said.

Cambodian medical officers unload equipment
Cambodian medical officers unload equipment from a helicopter as they prepare for health checks on passengers and crew of the Westerdam (Heng Sinith/AP)

“All approvals have been received and we are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support,” a statement on the cruise operator’s website said.

The Westerdam began its cruise in Singapore last month and its last stop before it was refused further landings was in Hong Kong, where 50 cases of the viral disease have been confirmed.

A passenger on the ship expressed relief at the news the ship would be docking in Cambodia.

“Homeward bound! The #Westerdam is headed for Cambodia,” she tweeted.

“We’re told by the captain that it may take a few days to get everyone on chartered flights to Phnom Penh and then home. Elated at the prospect of touching land tomorrow. Until then, I’ll work on my towel animals.”

PA