A Princess Cruises ship arriving in Réunion Island, near Madagascar, was met by protesters demanding that the liner’s 2,000 passengers be tested for the new coronavirus before deboarding.
About 30 protesters tried to block the passengers from getting off the ship on Sunday out of fears that they would bring coronavirus to the small island, which has not yet had any cases of the new virus, The Guardian reported. After the protesters threw rocks and pebbles, police pushed them back with teargas.
“Of course we are not against the arrival of tourists, they are necessary for the development of our economy. We just want to be sure that there is no risk of the coronavirus propagating,” one protester, Yannis Latchimy, told the news outlet.
The ship initially tried to dock in Madagascar on Feb. 13 but was turned away because it had not yet been 14 days — the incubation period for coronavirus — since the ship’s last stop, in Thailand, which has seen 43 cases of the disease and one death.
The clash with protesters happened after 300 passengers had already left the ship to explore the French-owned island. Health officials offered the departing passengers pamphlets about coronavirus and face masks, but no one took them, The Guardian said. Officials did not check the passengers’ temperatures for signs of a fever.
The liner is from the same company as the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined in Japan for several weeks after the coronavirus quickly spread among the passengers. A reported six people have died from the Diamond Princess outbreak.
There have not been any reported cases of coronavirus on the Princess liner that docked in Réunion. The ship left for Mauritius on Sunday night.
There are currently 92,312 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, and 3,131 people have died.
Several cruise companies have set restrictions on who can board. Royal Caribbean said they would deny any passengers from boarding if they have traveled to areas with major outbreaks, or been within 6 feet of anyone who has. They will also turn away anyone with flu-like symptoms.
Princess Cruises has also said they have put similar limitations in place.
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