The president of the United States, Donald Trump, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have thanked the Government of Cambodia for allowing the cruise ship rejected by several countries to disembark in one of its ports for fear of COVID-19 while the last passengers are expected to leave the ship between today and tomorrow.
"Thanks to the beautiful country of Cambodia for accepting the Westerdam ship from @CarnivalCruise (the US parent company that owns the cruise) in your port. The United States will remember your courtesy," said Donald Trump on Twitter early this Saturday.
The Westerdam, of the Holland America Line shipping company and in which seven Spaniards were traveling, had docked early Friday morning at the port of Sihanoukville, where local authorities and consular personnel from several countries were waiting, one day after anchoring in front of the coast.
A REJECTED BOAT IN OTHER PORTS
Holland America said it obtained permission to disembark the 1,455 passengers and 802 crew after twenty blood samples were negative after being examined yesterday in the laboratory of the Pasteur Institute of Phnom Penh.
Cambodia had accepted the arrival of the cruise ship to its territory on Wednesday after it had been rejected by the authorities of Taiwan, the Philippines, Guam and Thailand over the previous two weeks.
"We are pleased by the satisfactory resolution of this complex trip that was complicated by unfounded fears arising from erroneous information about the medical condition of the guests and crew of Westerdam," the shipping company said in a statement.
UN PRAISE TO CAMBODIA
Meanwhile, WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, thanked Cambodia on Friday for allowing the ship to dock at Sihanoukville in a videoconference from Kinshasha, where he was on an official visit.
"I would like to thank Cambodia, especially the Prime Minister, for demonstrating to the world the meaning of solidarity," said the Director General of WHO.
For his part, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the UNWTO, sent a letter to the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, in which he expressed his "most sincere thanks and that of the UNWTO to the Royal Government of Cambodia for his extraordinary humanitarian response to the hurried situation of Westerdam, "according to the Cambodian pro-government portal FreshNews.
PRAISES AFTER EU SANCTIONS
Praise to the Hun Sen Government comes after the European Commission (EC) announced on Wednesday that it will restrict Cambodia's access to the internal market of the European Union (EU) through preferential rates for the "systematic violation of human rights "in the Asian country.
The measure was taken after the July 2018 elections, which were held after a vast judicial campaign against the opposition, media and activists, conducted at the behest of Prime Minister Hun Sen, in office since 1985.
Two days after the announcement of the EU sanctions, Hun Sen went expressly to Sihanoukville on Friday to receive on his dock the first passengers who disembarked from Westerdam, who were presented with flowers and krama, the traditional Cambodian handkerchief, in a act broadcast live on all the televisions of the country.
THE ROLE OF HUN SEN
The president invoked solidarity and the need to join efforts to combat the disease to explain his decision to authorize the arrival of the ship, which would have been requested by the embassies of the US and the European Union, and said he would have done so even if some of the passengers would have tested positive for the coronavirus.
"People speak with fear of COVID-19 but I think differently. When asked if Cambodia would allow the cruise ship to dock with passengers infected with coronavirus, the answer is as soon as possible since we cannot let patients die at sea." Hun Sen said, according to the Freshnews portal.
The ship, which departed on day 1 of Hong Kong, was scheduled to arrive on Saturday in the Japanese city of Yokohama, but the Japanese authorities denied entry after a person on board showed symptoms of being infected with the coronavirus from China .
The case of Westerdam took place after the Japanese authorities quarantined another cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, where at least 218 of its 3,700 people on board have tested positive for the coronavirus.