Preparations under way to evacuate 21 Thais on Westerdam cruise ship
Preparations are under way to evacuate 21 Thai citizens on board Holland America’s MS Westerdam cruise ship and to provide necessary supplies to the ship, once there is a greenlight from the Thai government.
An informed source in the Marine Department said that, for the time being, there has been no permission received from the Government for the cruise ship to dock at Laem Chabang port in Thailand’s Chon Buri province, but medical and evacuation teams are being prepared.
“Everything now depends on the Government and its decision,” said Dr. Suthep Petmark, inspector-general of public health.
The Directorate for the Protection of Marine Interests met this morning at the Sattahip naval base to discuss contingency plans to cope with all eventualities pertaining to the cruise ship, including evacuation of Thai nationals on board, provision of necessary supplies and docking of the cruise ship.
The Royal Thai Navy has sent a patrol boat to survey sea route, in case evacuation of the Thai citizens is ordered.
There are 19 Thai passengers and two Thai crew members stranded on board the cruise liner, which is currently heading out into the Gulf of Thailand, according to Dr. Piti Srisangnam, a lecturer at the Economics Faculty of Chulalongkorn University.
In his Facebook post today, he pleaded with the Thai government to review its decision and allow the ship to dock, for humanitarian reasons.
The Cruise Ship Professional Association issued a statement today, urging the Thai government to reconsider its refusal to allow docking, urging the it to help by allowing the ship into port, so all on board can be screened, in accordance with international standards of practice in case of an infectious disease.
The association added that it has confidence in the capability of the medical system to cope with the situation and to contain coronavirus.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has said Thailand will not allow the ship to dock, but it will provide necessary supplies, such as fuel, food and water.
The ship has been at the sea for more than 20 days after being turned away from the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and now Thailand.