Norwegian Dawn: Cruise ship allowed to dock in Mauritius after cholera outbreak scare

    The cruise ship of the Norwegian Cruise Line 'Norwegian Dawn" (L) departs the Royal Naval Dockyard July 16, 2013 near the port of Hamilton, Bermuda. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo

    At least 15 people had been in isolation over suspected illness, which turned out to be gastroenteritis

    A cruise ship was given the green light to dock in Mauritius on Monday after officials found there was no evidence of a cholera outbreak onboard.

    The Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings ship tried to dock in the capital of Port Louis on Saturday but was blocked from doing so because at least 15 people had been in isolation over suspected illness.

    Passengers had experienced mild symptoms of a stomach-related illness during the ship’s earlier trip to South Africa – in a region currently struggling with a deadly cholera outbreak.

    But Mauritian authorities took samples on Sunday and, on Monday afternoon, the director of Mauritius Ministry of Health confirmed the passengers have gastroenteritis, not cholera.

    Dr Bhooshun Ori said they have “fully recovered”. The Norwegian Dawn was supposed to dock on Sunday but arrived one day early because it skipped its scheduled stop at Reunion Island.

    At the time, the Mauritian authorities said they had taken the decision “to avoid any health risks”.

    “The health and safety of passengers as well as that of the country as a whole are of the utmost,” the statement added.

    They also said that they had worked with the ship’s management to make sure precautions were in place and all on board were okay while they were waiting for the test results to come back.

    Of these, around 2,000 passengers would have disembarked in Port Louis after completing their cruise while another 2,279 new passengers had been expected to board the ship, the port authority said.

    “Passengers who were due to board the Norwegian Dawn and begin their cruise from Mauritius today will not be able to do so due to potential health risks,” it added.

    Those who were disembarking or joining the cruise will now do so on February 27.

    Southern Africa is currently seeing the deadliest outbreak of cholera the region has seen in at least a decade.

    As of January 15, more than 200,000 cases, including over 3,000 deaths, have been reported, World Health Organization figures say.

    Countries affected include Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Zambia has been hit especially badly, with more than 11,000 cases and hundreds of deaths.

    Only 61 per cent of southern Africa’s population currently has access to safe drinking water, according to the Southern Africa Development Community.

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