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Coronavirus precautions in place as cruise season begins

The Fridtjof Nansen is the first cruise visitor of 2020.
(The Orcadian/Craig Taylor)

WITH the spread of Coronavirus making global headlines, with several cruise ships affected, at the beginning of a season which will see just over 160 cruise ships calling into Orkney, Orkney Islands Council has offered reassurances on what procedures would be followed if a cruise ship heading to Orkney had a suspected case of Coronavirus on board.

An updated council statement on the issue said: “We have had port health procedures in place for many years for dealing with cases of infection aboard ships of all kind. These procedures are aimed at preventing infection coming into the country.

“In addition, all cruise ships have been asked to provide a Medical Declaration of Health before arriving in Orkney, whether or not they have any illness on board.

“If there was a suspected case of Covid-19 aboard a ship, the council’s port health and NHS Orkney’s public health teams would work in conjunction with Health Protection Scotland and the Scottish Government to decide on the best course of action to take.

“The health needs of the individual would be an important consideration, but if a situation of this kind arose, the most likely outcome is that the ship would be redirected to a port on the Scottish mainland close to more specialist health facilities.”

With the arrival of the Fridtjof Nansen as the first visitor of 2020, also on the issue of Coronovirus, captain of the vessel Benny Didriksen said that light medical checks had been carried out, which met requirements and standards to safeguard guests onboard the ship.

The company also stated that in light of the ongoing Coronavirus 2019-nCoV outbreak, Hurtigruten has chosen to follow guidelines and recommendations from WHO (World Health Organisation), IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) and CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association).

The company added: “For Hurtigruten, safety is paramount. Hence, we are monitoring the situation and will swiftly respond to directives given by authorities should it be necessary.”