4 dead and 247 Canadians stranded on nightmare cruise ship near the Panama Canal
A cruise ship that has been at sea since the beginning of the month remains stranded off the coast of Panama, carrying 247 Canadians and hundreds more passengers from around the world.
Since March 7, four passengers have died onboard the Zaandam cruise ship, with 53 guests and 85 crew members currently experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Two have officially tested positive for COVID-19 as of March 17, according to the ship, which was sailing a South America route.
Cruise ship carrying more than 1,800 people off Panama in race to transfer healthy passengers to another ship after four people die and two others test positive for Covid-19 pic.twitter.com/SyRlOA3PtT— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) March 28, 2020
"Holland America Line can confirm that four older guests have passed away on Zaandam," said the cruise ship's company in a statement Friday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and we are doing everything we can to support them during this difficult time."
It's unclear what the cause of death was for the four passengers, none of whom were Canadian.
Currently, the Zaandam is carrying 1,243 passengers, and 586 crew members.
FYI - For Canadians on the Holland America cruise ship off coast of Panama - the Prime Minister says his officials talking with Panama gov to figure out a way out of this... 4 people on that ship have already died, at least 130 showing symptoms #cdnpoli #COVID19 #covid19Canada— Molly Thomas (@MollyThomasTV) March 28, 2020
Zaandam, which departed Buenos Aires before the height of the global COVID-17 pandemic, was originally scheduled to conclude its cruise at San Antonio, Chile, on March 21.
Due to health concerns, Holland America Line has been seeking a place to dock since cutting its cruise short on March 14. Initially it had intended to dock in Punta Arena, but passengers were refused the right to disembark by Chilean officials.
The ship was also denied passage through the Panama Canal in order to dock in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and has since been sailing off the coast of Panama.
Bruh there’s a cruise ship docked off the coast of Panama, country won’t let them pull up and disembark....won’t let them cross the canal cause passengers are ill. There are 4 people dead on that ship, just sitting in the ocean. Imagine 😩— Adenosine triphos hate🇨🇦🇬🇩🇧🇧 (@Wonderwuhman1) March 28, 2020
The ship has since arranged a rendezvous with its sister ship, Rotterdam, and is transferring medical supplies and healthy guests over, prioritizing guests who are over 70.
Hundreds of elderly passengers are stuck on a cruise liner off the coast of Panama (UK, US, Canada, Aus...). Covid-19 is on board. Four have died so far. Nobody will let them dock.— Patrick Greenfield (@pgreenfielduk) March 28, 2020
I know there are many serious situations around the world right now but this is cruel. https://t.co/SWNkkQvNnU
More medical staff are also being transferred over from the Rotterdam to assist the two doctors and four nurses currently operating on the Zaandam.
All crew members will remain on the ship, as will guests who are ill or in isolation due to close contact. The ships are still working with Panamanian authorities to be granted passage to Fort Lauterdale.
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