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Coronavirus

No virus, but Westerdam is turned away by fifth Asian port

Thailand is latest to refuse dock, leaving luxury liner stranded at sea

Thailand became the fifth authority to deny the cruise ship Westerdam permission to dock.   © Kyodo

BANGKOK -- Troubles continue for the cruise ship Westerdam as Thailand became the fifth authority to deny permission to dock, leaving the luxury liner and its 1,455 passengers with no where to head to.

Holland America, the operator of the Westerdam, had tweeted on Monday that the ship would be able to anchor in Bangkok and that the trip would finally come to an end.

"Westerdam is sailing for Bangkok, Thailand, where the current cruise that departed Feb. 1 will end on Thursday, February 13. Guests will be disembarking in Laem Chabang and transferring to Bangkok for their forward travel home," the company had said. 

No coronavirus cases have been found aboard and the Thai side had originally said that the ship could dock.

But amid heightened public concern, officials ultimately changed their minds citing public panic that has spread online over news of the virus, which has led to more than 1,000 deaths in China.

"I have issued orders. Permission to dock refused," Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Facebook.

The Southeast Asian country joins a growing list of destinations to turn away the Westerdam luxury liner, leaving thousands of passengers and crew stranded at sea.

The Westerdam, which also has 802 crew members on board, previously was prohibited from docking in Japan. Others to deny entry include Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam.

It remains unclear whether Thailand will reject other cruise liners. The country allowed the Seabourn Ovation to reach its shore Friday, after the Philippines and Vietnam refused entry. Other cruise ships were anticipated to dock in Thailand as well.

Holland America is a unit of U.S.-based Carnival, the group that also operates the quarantined Diamond Princess liner docked at Yokohama.

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