Westerdam passengers test negative
In other cruise ship news, the Westerdam – which has been turned away from five different countries over coronavirus fears – has said that 20 of its passengers have been tested and do not have the new virus.
The ship has always maintained that it has no sick passengers, but was it was refused entry by multiple countries because it had been in Hong Kong two weeks ago. It was eventually allowed to dock in Cambodia.
Just now, the cruise operator, Holland America Line announced: “20 samples taken onboard Westerdam have all been confirmed as negative for coronavirus by the Pasteur Laboratory in Phnom Penh”.
“As stated in previous communications, there were never any suspected cases of coronavirus on board.”
The ship has 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, and Cambodian authorities have given the ship permission to disembark its passengers.
“We sincerely thank all those in Cambodia who have demonstrated a willingness to welcome us with an open mind and make decisions based on facts,” Stein Kruse, the CEO of Holland American Line said.
“This has all been a terrible and unfortunate misunderstanding that has impacted 2,257 people on board and hundreds of others shoreside,” he said.
78-year old man and 18-month old toddler among Australians still stranded in Wuhan
A 78-year old, former Royal Australian Air Force engineer is the latest Australian to be confirmed as still stranded in the Wuhan, as reported exclusively by myself and my colleague Ben Doherty.
This comes after we revealed that an 18-month old toddler, also an Australian citizen, was still in the Hubei province, under lockdown, and had not been given a place on one of the Australian evacuation flights.
The flights were supposed to prioritise the elderly, the young and the “isolated and vulnerable”.
Now Garry Ridder has spoken to us as well, saying that when he asked if 78 qualified as old, he got “no response but a quiet chuckle.”
Earlier, other stranded Australians said the priority process was unclear, and they felt they were being “swept under the carpet”. Desmond Lim, whose wife is still trapped in Wuhan, said he felt like they were being punished for following the process.
“The mantra of most army units in the world is ‘Leave no one behind’,” Ridder told Guardian Australia. “This is obviously not in the Australian government’s playbook.”
The US state department has issued a statement saying it is “deeply concerned” about North Korea’s vulnerability to the new coronavirus.
“The US is deeply concerned about the vulnerability of the North Korean people to a coronavirus outbreak…The US is ready and prepared to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organisations”.
If you’re struggling to keep up with the news on coronavirus, the fabulous team at Full Story (Guardian Australia’s news podcast) has made a podcast that traces the outbreak and reviews the public health response, both in China and Australia.
You can listen here:
At the very end you can also hear some snippets of my interview with Moko Yong, a photographer from Melbourne who is still trapped in Wuhan, along with many other Australians.
116 new deaths – lower than yesterday
That latest figures out of China show that there has been a drop in the number of new deaths and new infections, but the toll does continue to rise.
There have been 116 new deaths, and 4,823 new cases in the Hubei province, where the virus first emerged. That is a total of 51,986 cases in the province, according to Reuters.
However, this is a smaller increase than yesterday, when there was a dramatic 240 new deaths and nearly 15,000 new cases.
Cruise ship company denies reports of potential coronavirus case
The operators of a Norwegian cruise ship docked in Sydney Harbour say there’s “no truth” to reports of a potential coronavirus case amongst its passengers.
Norwegian Cruise Line, operators of the Norwegian Jewel, said the vessel remained in operation and all the passengers were healthy.
“This morning there were various false media reports related to an illness on board our ship,” a Norwegian Cruise Line spokeswoman said in a statement to AAP on Friday. “There is absolutely no truth to this. The vessel remains in operation, and all guests onboard are in good health.”
NSW Health told AAP on Friday that while no passengers of the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship had visited mainland China in the past 14 days they were being screened for the illness for precautionary reasons.
A passenger on board a cruise ship that docked in Sydney harbour Friday morning has reportedly been taken for testing for a possible case of novel coronavirus.
The Singaporean national fell ill with a respiratory illness and was taken from the Norwegian Jewel shortly after it docked at the international passenger terminal at Circular Quay at 6am this morning.
The man is being tested as a precaution. He has not yet been confirmed as having the virus.
Other passengers have been allowed to disembark from the ship, after earlier being kept on board as a precaution.
The Norwegian Jewel, registered in the Bahamas, is a 15-year-old cruise ship with a capacity of nearly 2,400 passengers.
It departed from Dunedin four days ago, having been sailing between ports in New Zealand.
The cruise ship operator has been contacted for comment.
This is Naaman Zhou bringing you the latest coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. These are the top developments:
You can get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @naamanzhou