Tourism

Coronavirus: Cruise company bans Chinese passport holders and Australia’s last evacuation flight lands

Travellers are beginning to rethink cruise holidays as coronavirus continues to plague the travel industry.

Royal Caribbean has reportedly banned Chinese passport holders, regardless of the last time they were in the country, from boarding its ships in reaction to epidemic panic surrounding the virus.

The ban is believed to be in place throughout February.

This comes as the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) updates its precautionary protocols to prevent the spread of the disease. CLIA members are now required to deny boarding to passengers who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau or who have had close contact with or helped care for anyone suspected or diagnosed as having coronavirus within 14 days, and conduct preboarding screening.

Meanwhile, seven of the confirmed 61 cases of coronavirus onboard Diamond Princess are reportedly Australians residents or citizens.

One Australian woman who tested positive told ABC News she was not told what was happening when she was tested, but she feels “remarkably well”.

“Basically, we got frogmarched off to a room upstairs and they swab tested us,” she said.

“We didn’t know why and they didn’t tell us anything about it.”

She said her main concern is her husband who is in his 70s and requires help.

“He is very anxious and very upset and he will need assistance. He can’t come with me as there isn’t room, and obviously it would be dangerous,” she said.

Passengers onboard Holand America Line’s Westerdam have also told ABC News that after being denied entry to the Philippines, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, the ship’s captain told them he doesn’t know where the ship will go next.

“At this point in time, we are officially abandoned at sea with nowhere to go,” the passenger said.

Travel professional Suzanne Baker told ABC News that some customers are beginning to rethink their travel plans, with some who are due to travel in the next month expressing concerns.

“We’ve had a lot of inquiries from people wanting to change or cancel, but the cruise companies are wanting to change their itineraries anyway to try and minimise any impact,” she said.

“We’ve also had passengers … who are cruising to Europe who’ve rung and said … ‘can we change or cancel?’ and of course they can’t because Europe is unaffected.”

Evacuation flight lands in Wuhan as Qantas strips aircraft 

The third and possibly last planeload of Australians evacuated out of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, have landed in Darwin’s RAAF base before sending the 266 evacuees to an unused workers’ camp on the city’s outskirts.

The evacuees were reportedly subject to thorough screening including testing before take-off and twice during the flight.

Meanwhile, Qantas has revealed the only items that will not be replaced on the aircraft used to carry the evacuees are those bolted to the floor and ceiling, according to the Australian.

Despite none of the evacuees testing positive, the airline will not be taking any chances, and will also be replacing the planes medical-grade air filters. Anything that is bolted down, will be sprayed twice by hospital-grade disinfectant and wiped down.

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