Royal Caribbean Cruises announced Friday that it will ban passengers with Chinese, Macau or Hong Kong passports from its trips.
The decision comes amid instances of cruise ships being quarantined over fears of coronavirus. Royal Caribbean has also cancelled at least eight trips out of China until March 4 due to the outbreak.
“Any guest or crewmen traveling from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau less than 15 days prior to their sailing will be unable to board any of our ships,” the company said in a statement.
It also said, “Any guests holding a Chinese, Hong Kong or Macau passport, regardless of when they were there last, will not be allowed to board our ships.”
Earlier this week, the company also said passengers who’ve had contact with people who’ve been in China or Hong Kong in that period must submit to specialized health screenings.
On Friday, four passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean ship docked in Bayonne, New Jersey were sent to a local hospital for further coronavirus screening.
The company said decisions were made after consultation with health authorities over the spread of the virus. Coronavirus has spread to more than 31,000 people and killed 638 worldwide, with the highest concentration of cases in the Hubei province of China.
WHO emergency expert Mike Ryan called out a stigma being attached to the virus over reports of Asians being shunned in the West. “The unnecessary, unhelpful profiling of individuals based on ethnicity is utterly and completely unacceptable and it needs to stop,” he said.
The Canadian government is also monitoring the well-being of 285 Canadians quarantined on two cruise ships off the coast of Japan and Hong Kong over coronavirus fears.
There are seven Canadians with confirmed cases of the coronavirus contracted aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in the port city of Yokohama, just outside Tokyo. Those patients have been taken to Japanese hospitals for treatment and monitoring.
— With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters