Just as the World Health Organisation declares a swine flu pandemic, Royal Caribbean cruise ship Adventure of the Seas has been turned away from two islands.
Two members of the ship’s crew, and one passenger – among 3,100 aboard – are reported to have been showing flu-like symptoms, so the vessel was not allowed to berth at Castries, St Lucia yesterday. Antigua also said it would not let the ship come into port at St Johns today.
Adventure of the Seas left San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sunday, and has made one call, at Bridgetown, Barbados. It is not yet clear whether the authorities in St Maarten and the US Virgin Islands will allow planned calls at Phillipsburg and St Croix.
A spokesman for Royal Caribbean said H1N1 swine flu had not been confirmed, and that the three affected were in isolation.
Since swine flu appeared in Mexico and the US in April, it has spread to 74 countries around.. On Wednesday, WHO reported 27,737 cases including 141 deaths. Most cases are mild and require no treatment.
According to WHO’s own pandemic criteria, a global outbreak means a new flu virus is spreading in at least two world regions. With thousands of cases in North America and hundreds in Japan, Australia and Europe, many experts say that threshold has already been reached.
If a global outbreak is announced, individual countries would bring their own pandemic preparedness plans into force. These could include imposing measures like quarantines, school closures, travel bans and trade restrictions.