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More Than 700 Westerdam Passengers Test Negative For Coronavirus

Passengers from the cruise ship Westerdam watch Cambodian dancers perform at a hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Westerdam’s owner, Holland American Line, said it would organize flights for those cleared to leave the country.

Cambodian officials confirmed Wednesday that more than 700 passengers from the Westerdam cruise ship that docked in Sihanoukville last week had tested negative for COVID-19.

Additionally, 233 passengers aboard the ship were allowed to travel Wednesday to Phnom Penh, officials said.

Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine confirmed that 781 passengers did not have COVID-19, as of 8 am Wednesday. Separately, the Transportation Ministry confirmed that 233 passengers aboard the Westerdam were bused to Phnom Penh after testing negative.

“We have tested very carefully and they do not have COVID-19, which is why we let them leave the ship,” said Kheang Phearum, Preah Sihanouk provincial spokesperson.

However, Or Vandine did not confirm if the 233 passengers transported from Sihanoukville were part of the 781 she had confirmed cleared to travel. Now, 747 crew members are remaining aboard the Westerdam.

“We are currently waiting for more test result and we will update you about it,” Or Vandine said.

More than 350 Indonesian staff members of the ship have tested negative in recent days for COVID-19, VOA Indonesian reported Wednesday.

The cruise ship was rejected by five different ports before being allowed by the Cambodian government to port at Sihanoukville last Thursday. However, concerns remain if a few hundred passengers initially cleared to leave Cambodia were adequately tested for the virus, potentially hampering containment efforts. One of those passengers, an American woman, tested positive for COVID-19 in Malaysia.

Westerdam’s owner, Holland American Line, said it would organize flights for those cleared to leave the country.

However, following the positive virus test in Malaysia, the country, along with Singapore and Thailand, have banned any cruise passengers from entering or transiting through their airports.

“We have been working around any restrictions to schedule flights,” Holland America Line said in an email to VOA Khmer.

The cruise company also said the ship would remain in Sihanoukville till crewmembers received their COVID-19 results.

Many Westerdam passengers are still in Phnom Penh and were taken on a sightseeing tour on Monday, despite their virus results not being released. Yesterday, the passengers, who are lodged at the Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel, were entertained by a traditional dance show.