Nine more cruise ships with homesick J’cans – Chang
National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says that like the 1,044 Jamaican crew members who returned to the island this week via the Adventure of the Seas, there are nine other cruise ships on the high seas with nationals eager to come home.
Chang was speaking at Thursday’s press conference at the Falmouth Port in Trelawny, where crew members disembarked, were tested for the new coronavirus, and were processed by immigration officials before being whisked away into quarantine at two St Ann hotels.
“There is an ongoing dialogue with nine cruise lines. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the Jamaica Government are coordinating to see how best we can deal with the requests,” said Chang.
“There are 88 countries with Jamaican nationals. Not all want to come home, but for those who want to, we have to see how fast we can bring them home. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is at work dealing with the logistics.”
While the Government streamlines repatriation plans, Chang cautioned that care must be taken to ensure that the COVID-19 outbreak on the island does not escalate. Up to Thursday, Jamaica had recorded 534 coronavirus cases.
“There must not be any kind of spike. It must be borne in mind that the economy is at risk, and nothing must be done to damage it,” said Chang. “The present protocol surrounding the provisions of samples for testing will continue for other arriving nationals.”
Chang also pooh-poohed a suggestion that returning cruise ship crew members be quarantined on their vessels because they were virtually floating hotels. Chang said that would not be possible based on various concerns.
“[Quarantine arrangements] cannot change not only based on costs, but also ships would not want to be quarantine vessels,” said Chang.