After initially being denied entry by the Bali provincial administration due to COVID-19 fears, passengers of the Viking Sun cruise ship have gotten the all-clear from local health authorities and disembarked at Benoa Port in Denpasar on Sunday.
Benoa Port Authority head Agustinus Maun told The Jakarta Post that the port authority had no reason to deny entry to the ship, its passengers and crew members after health authorities gave them the clearance.
“All the passengers and crew have undergone detailed health examinations, and all of them have been declared healthy,” Agustinus said.
Carrying 738 passengers and 442 crew members, the Viking Sun arrived in Bali waters on Saturday morning, one day earlier than scheduled, after it was barred from docking in Surabaya, East Java, when local authorities received information that two passengers aboard the ship were suffering from a cold and fever.
The rejection and quarantine of cruise ships are the latest efforts by governments around the world seeking to contain the COVID-19 outbreak ever since Japan quarantined the virus-stricken Diamond Princess and its 3,700 passengers in Yokohama.
Bali Governor I Wayan Koster initially said the Viking Sun and its passengers would not be allowed into Bali, but the decision was reversed after medical personnel from the Benoa Port Health Office as well as the Bali Health Agency and Bali Mandara Hospital completed health examinations on everyone on board.
Agustinus said the health examination had been conducted in accordance with the World Health Organization protocols.
“So, there is no reason not to allow the cruise ship to dock here,” he said.
Following the health clearance, all passengers were allowed to disembark on Sunday morning via a tender boat. The cruise ship itself will not dock until Sunday night, as another cruise ship is still docked at the port.
Agustinus said some passengers had decided to stay in Bali for a one-day tour, while 378 passengers had cut their cruise short and departed for their respective home countries via Ngurah Rai International Airport.
The cruise ship is scheduled to depart from Bali for Colombo at 6 p.m. on Monday.
Responding to the decision to allow Viking Sun passengers to disembark in Bali, Denpasar city administration spokesperson Dewa Gede Rai said the Transportation Ministry and Health Ministry had made the final decision.
“The most important thing is that local authorities have warned that a detail examination should be done. We don’t want to try to stop tourists from coming to Bali. We just want to protect our residents from the virus. It’s for our residents’ safety,” Dewa said.
Source: Jakarta Post