Three passengers showing flu-like symptoms aboard the Carnival Fascination cruise-liner have all tested negative for the Coronavirus COVID-19, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced just before midnight.
She spoke while addressing some of the 37 Barbadians who travelled on the ship, Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic and other state officials.
Barbados TODAY has learned that even before the test results were made official, the vessel was allowed to dock after being thoroughly inspected by health officials on Thursday afternoon. But passengers were not permitted to disembark until the test results were known.
The vessel, which was headed to St Lucia in the wee hours of Thursday morning, was carrying 2,200 guests including 140 passengers scheduled to disembark here to take their flight home to the United Kingdom.
Nevertheless, the authorities decided to test the crew member, an engineer and two other passengers. This decision was taken in light of the Government’s obligation to protecting the Barbadians onboard and because St Lucia does not have the capacity to test for COVID-19, according to the Prime Minister.
With the lingering fears behind them, PM Mottley exchanged hugs and words of reassurance with the Barbadian passengers.
“We really just wanted first and foremost to welcome you home,” the Prime Minister told the Barbadians onboard to rousing applause.
“We have done all of the tests and they are all negative and therefore there is no reason for us to give you another 14-day vacation.
“I wanted to see you because the same way we were concerned, we figured that once you realised you weren’t going into St. Lucia, a number of you would have been concerned about what was happening.
“So we really just wanted to be able to hug you and to say thank you for being safe and being home.”
Authorities initially indicated that the test results would be made public approximately four hours after a press conference which started around 11:30 a.m.
The Minister of Health revealed that the delay in producing the results was due to challenges getting the passengers off the ship. Nevertheless, he expressed
satisfaction with the overall handling of the matter.
Lt. Col. Bostic said: “I am quite satisfied with what transpired. We were dealing with this matter from yesterday around midnight right through the day. All protocols were followed.
“When the doctors and nurses came onboard and did their assessments, everything was good. It was only those three persons that were displaying any types of symptoms.
“There was no widespread illness on the ship as was reported in some quarters.”
During Thursday morning’s press conference at Government Headquarters, the Prime Minister described as “scurrilous” reports of severely ill passengers on board the vessel.
While she did not expect tests to come back positive, Mottley declared that her Government would take no chances with the safety of citizens or visitors.
During that press conference, the PM also revealed that Ministers of Health met via conference call to discuss the threat along with officials from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
Prime Minister Mottley said: “We have been preparing for any eventuality.
“We are hoping that we don’t have to press any of this into action, but understanding that when we listen to all of the advisories from all of the entities, we have to be prepared for any eventualities.” [email protected]