More than 400 passengers have disembarked the cruise ship Westerdam, which docked in Cambodia on Thursday after five other countries refused its entry amid fears of a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
Although none of the more than 2,000 passengers and crew on board the Westerdam were diagnosed with the deadly virus, worldwide panic over the disease’s spread pushed Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and the U.S. territory of Guam to deny the ship’s entry into their ports. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said during a news conference that preventing the spread of the virus was important and that the passengers would not be allowed to disembark in Thailand, though he offered assistance with food, fuel and water supplies.
Passengers were stuck in limbo for two weeks before Cambodian authorities allowed the ship to dock on Thursday. On Friday, the first group of passengers, numbering in the hundreds, were allowed to leave the ship, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Twenty passengers who had reported signs of being ill tested negative for COVID-19, WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a Friday news conference.