Wednesday 21 August 2019

Caribbean island refuses to allow passengers off measles-hit Church of Scientology cruise ship


The Freewinds cruise ship
The Freewinds cruise ship

Nick Allen

A cruise ship belonging to the Church of Scientology has been quarantined in the Caribbean after a person on board was diagnosed with measles.

Passengers and crew of the Freewinds were prevented from leaving the ship by authorities on St Lucia. The infected person was reportedly a female crew member.

Dr Merlene Fredericks-James, St Lucia's chief medical officer, said: "Because of the risk of potential infection, we thought it prudent to make a decision not to allow anyone to disembark."

It came as the US is facing its worst measles outbreak in 25 years, with more than 700 people infected in 22 states this year. Health officials have blamed the resurgence on the so-called "anti-vax" movement, where misinformation has been spread about the risk of vaccinations. The majority of US cases have occurred in children who have not been given MMR, the three-way vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella.

The rate of transmission from an infected person to another who lacks immunity is about 90pc, and an infected person can be contagious for four days before showing signs.

According to the Scientology website, Freewinds was a "religious retreat, ministering the most advanced level of spiritual counselling in the Scientology religion".

Normally docked in Curacao in the Caribbean, the ship was still moored off the St Lucia capital of Castries yesterday.

Irish Independent

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