(AP) — The cruise ship MSC Meraviglia, turned away by two nations due to fears of a virus outbreak, is being allowed to dock at Mexico’s Caribbean island of Cozumel and passengers will be allowed to disembark, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Thursday.
López Obrador said Mexico had to act with “humanity” after the ship was refused entry at ports in Grand Cayman and Jamaica.
The cruise line had expressed frustration with the rejections, which came after it reported one crew member from the Philippines was sick with common seasonal flu.
It said no passengers had shown evidence of the COVID-19 virus.
“The ship is being allowed to dock and the passengers, those who are aboard the cruise ship can disembark,” López Obrador said, adding that health inspections will be carried out.
“We cannot act with discrimination,” he said. “Imagine if a ship arrived and it wasn’t even allowed to dock, and they were told, ‘Keep going on your way, see where you can dock.’ That is inhuman.”
He added, “we cannot close our ports, nor can we close our airports.”
“Imagine the desperation and everything it implies, almost 5,000 people on a ship and they cannot get off,” he said. “Why such backward attitudes?”
The case of the Meraviglia illustrated the crisis of nerves over the COVID-19 virus.
Mexico has no confirmed cases and MSC Cruises says the crew member had only common seasonal flu.
Just before midnight, the governor of the Quintana Roo state, where Cozumel is located, said the Meraviglia would not be allowed to dock until health authorities had inspected it.
Governor Carlos Joaquin wrote that no-one would be allowed to disembark if any health concerns were found.