The cruise ship Zandaam, where four adults died and cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, is heading to the United States. after starting this Sunday its transit through the Panama Canal, whose health authorities finally allowed it to pass for humanitarian reasons.
Zandaam, from the shipping company Holland America, is heading to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with all its crew and passengers who have felt sick, since those who have not, 401 according to official Panamanian information, were transferred to another cruise ship , Rotterdam, which crossed the interoceanic highway this Sunday.
“The Zandaam and Rotterdam cruise ships entered the waters of the interoceanic highway on Sunday afternoon, after completing their operations to transfer passengers and supply supplies,” the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said in a statement.
For these transits, “all biosecurity and operational measures will be taken, in order to minimize the risks for the Panama Canal personnel and their clients, as well as guarantee a safe maneuver,” added the official letter.
Zandaam left Buenos Aires (Argentina) on March 7 for Port Everglades (Florida) with all the passengers isolated and without the possibility of touching port due to the group of sick people on board.
He was sailing in the Pacific with 1,243 passengers and 586 crew. The shipping company said Friday that there were 53 passengers and 85 crew members with flu-like symptoms, that two people had tested positive for COVID-19 and that four adults had died.
Zandaam arrived in Panamanian waters on Friday, when the country’s health authorities announced that they were denying entry to the Canal for health reasons, a resolution that was reevaluated on Saturday, when transit was finally authorized for humanitarian reasons and taking all necessary measures. biosecurity.
The navigation of the ships through the Canal can only be carried out by the pilots of the inter-oceanic route, who board and take command of the ship throughout the journey.
According to information from the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), to Rotterdam, which arrived on Friday, 401 asymptomatic passengers who were in Zandaam were transferred, during a ship-to-ship operation that took place between Saturday and Sunday in Panamanian waters and without touching port.
The Panamanian Maritime Authority said that the deceased in Zandaam are citizens “of American, Swedish, English and Dutch nationalities”, and that the “corpses will remain on board the ship and be landed upon arrival at their destination.”
Panama suspended on March 13 the disembarkation and embarkation of tourists in its ports, and also keeps the entry of people to the country prohibited as part of the measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, which already leaves 24 dead and 989 confirmed infections .