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Four Die on Holland America Cruise Ship

Passengers Chris and Anna Joiner send a message to the Canadian government, asking for help while stuck on board a cruise ship where four people have died. (Submitted by Chris Joiner)

REUTERS, March 28, 2020

PANAMA CITY, March 27 (Reuters) – Four passengers have died on board the MS Zaandam, a cruise ship currently off the coast of Panama with dozens of guests suffering from influenza-like symptoms, at least two of whom have coronavirus, the vessel’s operator said on Friday.

Zaandam had been on a South American cruise that departed Argentina on March 7 and had been scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile on March 21. Nobody has disembarked from the ship since it docked in Punta Arenas, Chile nearly two weeks ago.

Holland America Line, the operator, said in a statement it “can confirm that four older guests have passed away.”

Meanwhile, Holland America is dragging its feet on whether to extend the pause on cruising beyond the current 30-day time frame.

Some 53 guests and 85 crew have reported to the medical center with flu-like symptoms, the operator added, noting that “all ports” along Zaandam’s route are closed to cruise ships.

All told, there are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board, as well as four doctors and four nurses, the statement said.

READ: A cruise ship full of sick people wants to dock at Port Everglades. Why let them?

The cruise operator said it wants to transfer groups of healthy Zaandam passengers to its sister ship Rotterdam, which is now alongside the vessel of Panama.

Holland America Line said it was still working with the Panamanian authorities to see if it could get approval to transit the Panama Canal and sail to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

(Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Dave Graham, Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

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