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Cruise ship barred over virus fears to finally dock

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Thailand refused to allow the MS Westerdam to dock at a Thai port after it had already been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan (stock photo)

Thailand refused to allow the MS Westerdam to dock at a Thai port after it had already been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan (stock photo)

Thailand refused to allow the MS Westerdam to dock at a Thai port after it had already been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan (stock photo)

The operators of a cruise ship that was barred from docking by four governments over fears of a new virus that originated in China announced yesterday it will finally disembark passengers in Cambodia.

Thailand refused to allow the MS Westerdam to dock at a Thai port after it had already been turned away by the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan.

The ship was unwelcome despite assurances from operator Holland America Line that no cases of the viral disease now known as COVID-19 - coronavirus - have been confirmed among the more than 2,200 passengers and crew.

US Ambassador to Cambodia W Patrick Murphy confirmed on Twitter late last night that Cambodia had authorised the ship to dock in the port of Sihanoukville. He said he had dispatched an embassy team to work with the ship's representatives and Cambodian officials to help US citizens disembark and transfer to their onward destinations.

"We have also co-ordinated with foreign embassies of other nationalities," he wrote.

Fear about the spread of the disease has heightened since Japan's health ministry confirmed at least 174 cases aboard another cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama.

The Westerdam began in Singapore last month and its last stop before it was refused further landings was in Hong Kong, where 50 cases of the disease have been confirmed.

Irish Independent