The Carnival Fascination cruise ship arrived in Barbados a day ahead of schedule today and medical authorities immediately boarded to test a crew member for COVID-19.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, at a press conference earlier today, explained that the cruise ship was allowed to dock in Barbados after being refused entry into St. Lucia because Barbados had the capacity to test for the respiratory illness, while St. Lucia did not.
Carnival had indicated earlier in the week that it had two passengers and one crew member on board with flu-like symptoms. The cruise line carried out tests which revealed that the two passengers were positive for Influenza A, but the crew member was not positive for that illness.
Prime Minister Mottley stated that Barbados had copies of three medical declaration forms issued in respect of the crew member.
She noted that while the last form sent to Barbados’ Chief Medical Officer indicated that the 48-year-old man no longer had flu-like symptoms, earlier forms had indicated influenza and then pharyngitis (sore throat and low grade fever).
She explained that it was therefore out of “an abundance of caution” that Barbados had taken the decision to board the ship in order to take swabs from the crew member, and to confine all 2,281 passengers, including 37 Barbadians, and 896 crew to the ship, until the test results were known.
“Once the ship comes into harbour, the medical officials will embark and take the swabs and allow them to go to be tested. We will ask the passengers to remain on board during the period of testing, but we have every confidence that once that comes back negative, there will be no issue.
“We do not expect it to be positive … but we are not taking any chances with the people of this nation. We have a duty to protect people’s health and well-being.”
Ms. Mottley praised the Carnival Cruise Corporation, noting that it had been “absolutely cooperative” in working with the authorities in Barbados and had taken the precaution of isolating the crew member.
She disclosed that “in the very rare event” that the test was positive, the Barbadian passengers will immediately be quarantined, either at the Elayne Scantlebury Centre at River Bay, St. Lucy, or at Paragon, Christ Church.
She said there was also additional accommodation at the Barbados Defence Force’s field hospital.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, she added, will also be in contact with the British High Commissioner regarding the 140 passengers, predominantly from the United Kingdom, who will be disembarking the ship to take a flight back to the UK.
The Prime Minister promised to share the results of the test with the population as soon as they became available.