17 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: American Samoa to allow cruise ship to refuel

5:11 pm on 17 March 2020

Arrangements are being made for the refuelling of a cruise ship in American Samoa that has been turned away from four other ports.

The Norwegian Jewel

The Norwegian Jewel Photo: RNZ Pacific / Fili Sagapolutele

The US Coast Guard has confirmed the cruise ship will only be in port to refuel and none of the passengers will be allowed off the ship.

The head of the Marine Safety detachment unit, Lieutenant Ryan Junod, said the details were being ironed out for the refuelling operation.

Governor Lolo Moliga said the cruise ship requested emergency assistance, via the US Coast Guard, to allow it to enter American Samoa to be refulled.

The Norwegian Jewel had already been declined entry to other ports around the region, including Fiji and French Polynesia.

The cruise ship did not have enough fuel to make the trip to Hawai'i.

There are 749 US citizens on board.

The governor authorised the cruise ship's entry into the territory.

Lolo said he could not or would not in all good conscience turn his back on Americans in distress.

He pointed to the fact the territory was part of the "American family".

Lieutenant Junod said none of the people on board have any symptoms of Covid-19.

All cruise ships are currently banned under a travel advisory but Director of Health Motusa Tuileama Nua said an exception was being made in this case.

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