Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Guam and now Thailand have all refused the Holland America cruise ship with fears of the Coronavirus outbreak which has already infected 45,000 people around the world and killed over 1,100.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, told Fresh News that permitting the ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port was done on humanitarian grounds.
Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave a name to the disease that this new coronavirus causes, dubbing it COVID-19, but the virus itself still doesn't have a permanent name beyond the original designation, 2019-nCoV. Authorities have said they will allow some elderly people to disembark on Friday.
A strong supporter of China, Hun Sen has downplayed threats from the new virus and unlike other Asian nations, he declined to ban direct flights between Cambodia and China, saying that would disturb bilateral relations and hurt his country's economy.
Holland America Line tweeted that "Westerdam is now sailing for Sihanoukville, Cambodia, arriving at 7am local time on Feb 13 & will remain in port for several days for disembarkation".
In an email, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne spoke with his Cambodia counterpart, Prak Sokhonn, to thank him for allowing the ship to dock. Passengers will then disembark before being transferred via chartered flights to the country's capital, Phnom Penh, paid for by Holland America.
After that, the Dutch-flagged luxury liner was barred from docking in Manila, Kaohsiung in Taiwan, and, despite a request by US State Department, the American territory of Guam. But the Thai government announced on Tuesday that it would not be allowing the Westerdam to dock in Bangkok despite the fact that no one on board has a confirmed case of the virus. Guests will be able to go ashore. "All approvals have been received & we are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for the support". The company would pay for all flights home and fully refund payments for the cruise. They were there to shine a spotlight on their contributions and existence in their new country. "The safety of Americans overseas is my highest priority", he said, adding that his embassy team was now in Sihanoukville to assist the authorities with disembarking and the transfer to the next destination.
Praising the actions of the Cambodian authorities, Dr Tedros added: "This is a time for solidarity not stigma. Very much. It's been a long struggle and we appreciate everyone being here, thank you".
Meantime, US Embassy spokesperson Emily Zeeberg told The Post: "We are greatly appreciative of Cambodia's efforts and assistance, and its hospitality during this hard time".
The company maintained throughout the ship's journey that no cases had been confirmed among its 2,200 passengers and crew.
She added that the embassy team welcomed the arrival of the ship.
More than 2,200 passengers and crew celebrated as they began to disembark.
At least 39 people tested positive for the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess today, along with one quarantine officer, bringing the total of passengers from that ship to 174, not including the quarantine officer. "If someone is very sick on the sea, it is hard to evacuate them", Dr Widdowson added. What we know for sure is that four of them have a stomach ache and six had diarrhoea.
"Let's be clear about this, we have to confirm if the 20 suffer from Covid-19". The man, who works as a tour guide, recently tested negative for the virus. "What we can say is that blood samples have been taken for tests", Chamroeun said.