2 cruise ships barred from docking in Malaysia for fear of Covid-19

The Westerdam (picture) later docked in Cambodia. The Sapphire Princess stopped its journey in Singapore. (AFP pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The government today barred two cruise ships, ferrying hundreds of passengers, from docking in Malaysian waters as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the Westerdam, which had some 1,000 passengers, had previously docked in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Earlier today, Hong Kong reported three more confirmed Covid-19 infections, bringing the total number of cases in the city to 56.

On Feb 9, Taiwan confirmed its 18th case.

Wan Azizah said the Westerdam has since been allowed to dock in Cambodia.

The other cruise ship barred from docking in Malaysia was the Sapphire Princess, which has since docked in Singapore.

“The government decided against allowing these foreign ships from docking in Malaysian waters as they refused to share vital information needed by local authorities,” she said after chairing the National Disaster Management Committee’s special meeting here.

On a related issue, Wan Azizah said the home ministry will make it easier for factories to hire more foreign labour to manufacture face masks to meet the shortage in the country.

The home ministry, she said, will work with the human resources ministry to manage the matter.

“We are hiring more (foreigners) as it is an emergency but we do not want to have too many foreign workers in the country.”

Wan Azizah also revealed that four more Covid-19 patients have fully recovered, bringing the total treated in Malaysia to seven.

The four, all of them Chinese nationals, comprising two women and boys, aged 11 and two, have been discharged from hospital.

Currently, 19 people in the country have been infected by the virus, six of them Malaysians.