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Myanmar prepares to welcome tourist cruise ship

Myanmar is preparing to welcome the arrival of an international tourist cruise ship in Yangon despite the COVID-19 outbreak that plagues nearly 50 countries, officials said on Sunday, but the country’s health ministry will need to conduct medical tests on its passengers and crew.

The Silver Spirit, which is operated by the Bahamas-based Silver Sea Cruises, is scheduled to dock at Thilawa Port on Wednesday, according to Daw Khin Khin Gyi, deputy director of contagious disease prevention and eradication for the Department of Public Health.

The ship carries 485 tourists from 22 countries and over 350 crewmembers, according to the Yangon Region Directorate of Hotels and Tourism.

“We will test all passengers and crew members for COVID-19,” she said. “Then we will ask visitors to fill out health forms similar to those given to arriving passengers at our international airports. We will follow the international health regulations issued by the World Health Organization.”

Daw Khin Khin Gyi said Waibagi Hospital in Yangon is ready to quarantine tourists that test positive or show symptoms of the disease.

“If we find a positive case of COVID-19 from people on board, we will send them to the government hospital according to WHO guidelines,” she added.

She said those aboard would not be able to leave the ship if an infection is detected. “Our duty is to prevent the disease from entering our country.”

The Silver Spirit came from the Thai resort island of Phuket and will dock at Thilawa Multipurpose International Terminal at mid-morning Wednesday. It will stay in the port for three nights and four days, the office said.

Most of its passengers are British. None are from China and South Korea, which have been the main centres of the outbreak.

If the passengers and crew pass the medical test, they will be allowed to disembark and visit tourist sites in Yangon. Some will visit nearby Bago Region and the ancient city of Bagan in Mandalay Region.

“We have a responsibility to help complete their cruise and make it successful, but we have to prevent the entry of communicable diseases,” said U Naing Win, director of Hotels and Tourism for Yangon Region.

The Silver Spirit, which visits Yangon at least once a year, is over 200 metres long, 27 metres high, and weighs nearly 40,000 tonnes, according to the directorate. It will leave for Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Friday.

The Health Ministry said on Saturday that Myanmar remains free of COVID-19, which has already killed over 2900 people around the world. From January 31 to February 29, local health authorities tested 43 people that showed symptoms of the virus, but all tested negative.

The ministry advised local officials to allow only essential public gatherings and urged people to follow its guidelines to prevent the illness.

It announced on Friday that COVID-19 is an “epidemic or notifiable disease” under the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases Law, making it a crime for anyone to withhold information related to the disease. Those who fail to report the disease to the authorities face one month in prison or a fine of K30,000 (US$21).

France is banning all indoor public gatherings of more than 5000 people to slow the snowballing spread of COVID-19 cases and recommending that people no longer greet each other with kisses.

The number of French cases almost doubled to 100 on Saturday, of which 86 were hospitalised, two died and 12 have recovered, said the head of France’s national health service, Jerome Salomon.

In Italy, authorities reported that the total confirmed cases grew to 1128, a 27 percent increase from 24 hours earlier. The vast majority were in three northern regions, all economically productive and among the most visited in the country: Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna. – Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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Source :Myanmar Times

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