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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: East Java denies entry to Viking Sun cruise ship, passengers

  • Asip Hasani and Wahyoe Boediwardhana

    The Jakarta Post

Surabaya   /   Thu, March 5, 2020   /   06:12 pm
COVID-19: East Java denies entry to Viking Sun cruise ship, passengers Health quarantine officers examine arriving passengers at terminal 2 of Juanda Airport in Surabaya, East Java, Thursday (1/30/2020). (Antara/Umarul Faruq)

As many as 800 tourists from the United States and Australia aboard the MV Viking Sun cruise ship will not be able to visit Surabaya, East Java, as the Surabaya and East Java administrations have denied the cruise ship entry to the city.

The Norwegian-flagged cruise ship, carrying 1,395 passengers and crew, initially planned to dock at Tanjung Perak Port in the provincial capital on Friday.

The East Java administration rejected the ship’s request to dock at Tanjung Perak as East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa made the decision not to jeopardize the health of locals.

“During a meeting yesterday, we decided not to accept the ship’s request to moor at Tanjung Perak Port to prevent mass panic among citizens,” East Java health agency head Herlin Ferliana told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Read also: Cruise control? Securitizing luxury cruise ships in times of coronavirus

The decision was echoed by Surabaya Mayor Tri “Risma” Rismaharini, who claimed to have received information that two passengers aboard the ship were suffering from a cold and fever. The passengers recently traveled to New Caledonia and Australia, which is among the countries to have recorded confirmed COVID-19 cases.

According to data compiled by the John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, Australia had recorded 52 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Thursday afternoon. To date, two have died from the disease, while 11 others have recovered.

Risma said in a letter that Viking Sun passengers were only allowed to disembark from the ship at Tanjung Perak Port after undergoing a laboratory check, the results of which would be known two days after the test.

“However, it is impossible to do [the test] as the Viking Sun only docks in Surabaya for less than 10 hours,” Risma said in a letter, which also stipulated the restriction on the ship’s crew and passengers from disembarking at the port.

The restriction will also be applicable to other cruise ships with travel histories to countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

An official at Tanjung Perak harbormaster’s office Rony Fahmi said the office would follow up the decision: “We decided to deny entry to the Viking Sun cruise ship following a meeting with other institutions.”

Read also: Four Indonesians in Japan recover from COVID-19: Minister

State-owned port operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia III (Pelindo III) vice president Wilis Aji Wiranata said the company would comply with the administrations’ decision.

“Our initial plan was to dispatch officials from the port health authority to check on the passengers and crews’ health before they disembarked from the ship. This would be done if the cruise ship is allowed to dock [in Surabaya],” Wilis said.

The MV Viking Sun previously docked in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, on Monday. The cruise ship’s captain stated in its Maritime Declaration of Health that all people aboard the ship had been declared healthy.

Nevertheless, East Nusa Tenggara health authorities screened all passengers and crew when the ship docked in Labuan Bajo.

According to Pelindo III, the MV Viking Sun will continue its voyage to Benoa Port in Bali after docking in Surabaya. The boat will dock at Benoa until Mar. 10 and sail to Lombok the next day, before returning to Surabaya on Mar. 14. After that, the ship will sail to Sri Lanka, where it is scheduled to arrive on Mar. 20. (dpk)