Nairobi — The year's first cruise ship has docked at the Mombasa Port carrying more than 900 people who have been screened and cleared of the deadly corona virus.
The ship, which had approximately 575 passengers and 346 crew members on board, was received by Kenya Ports Authority management early Thursday.
The luxurious passenger liner MS Marco Polo, which is on a 78-day trip around Africa and Europe, docked at the newly refurbished Sh350 million state-of-the-art Cruise Ship Terminal.
The tourists on the 55 year old vessel will spend a night in Mombasa before heading to Seychelles on Friday. The ship came from South Africa, docked at Zanzibar before coming to Kenya.
Speaking after receiving the vessel, KPA Managing Director Daniel Manduku said the Authority has put measures in place to ensure that all passengers and crew members arriving at the port are screened.
"Before any passenger disembarks, there is rigorous screening. Mombasa Port has already issued a circular to all shipping lines concerning this matter," said Manduku.
Earlier, the KPA issued a circular to all shipping lines docking at Mombasa to screen all its passengers and crew against Corona Virus, which has so far claimed more than a thousand lives.
As of Wednesday night, another 97 people died in China, raising the national toll to 1,113, with more than 44,600 people now infected, according to AFP.
The circular, Manduku said, contains guidelines on how to handled suspected cases of Corona virus.
"We've issued a guideline on how to screen and treat suspected cases of the disease in line with health regulations. Once we suspect you might have been infected, we have facilities to quarantine you and refer you for further tests," he said.
Manduku said Kenya has so far been lucky as no incident of the deadly virus has been reported at the port of Mombasa.
Cruise Ship Virus
While Kenya has been lucky, Japan not so much.
An outbreak of the virus on a cruise ship has prompted Japan to quarantine thousands of passengers and crew on board, with tests administered to hundreds on board.
Earlier today, Japan said it would allow some elderly passengers off the quarantined cruise ship and into government-designated lodging, as the number of new coronavirus cases on the vessel jumped to 218.
Thousands of passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess -- the single largest cluster of infected people outside China -- face several days more of quarantine, with many taking to social media to voice their concerns.
According to AFP, those working on the ship have been reluctant to speak to reporters for fear of losing their jobs, but two crew members broke their silence in a video broadcast by Indian media Thursday.
"We are scared that if the infection is spreading, it is spreading so fast that we could also become affected," said Sonali Thakkar, a ship security officer.
Meanwhile, 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members of a US cruise ship rejoiced on Wednesday after learning Cambodia had given permission for the cruise liner to dock at Sihanoukville, on its southern coast.
The scheduled arrival Thursday will bring an end to what was meant to be a dream 14-day cruise across Asia -- beginning from Hong Kong on February 1, and disembarking on Saturday in Yokohama, Japan.
Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand all refused to allow the ship to dock, despite Holland America insisting there were no cases of the deadly disease -- which has killed over 1,100 -- on board.
Several other cruise ships have been refused entry at ports across the Asia-Pacific region -- from Singapore to Tonga -- as fears over the virus spike.