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Monday, January 24, 2022

Cordelia Cruises asked to discontinue operation, panel to probe reasons behind onboard outbreak of Covid

CEO of Cordelia Cruises Jurgon Bailom said, “It was disheartening to witness lack of empathy on the part of the authorities for neither allowing local residents nor tourists to disembark.”

Written by Yogesh Naik | Mumbai |
Updated: January 5, 2022 1:12:15 am
The cruiser Cordelia with 28 Covid positive passengers reaches Mumbai from Goa on tuesday. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarthy)

Moments after the Cordelia cruise with 66 Covid-19 positive passengers onboard reached Mumbai from Goa Tuesday evening, Director General of Shipping Amitabh Kumar ordered the cruise ship to immediately discontinue its operation.

Kumar also told The Indian Express that he has constituted a committee to probe the reasons behind the outbreak. The cruise ship was carrying hordes of New Year revellers.

Meanwhile, CEO of Cordelia Cruises Jurgon Bailom said they are suspending their January 5 operation over rising cases of the Omicron variant of the virus. “As of today, due to rising Omicron cases, the cruise scheduled for January 5 has been suspended in light of the DG Shipping’s advisory. We will release timely press updates on further developments, if any,” he said.

Additional municipal commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Suresh Kakani said, “Our team is already there at the docks. They will test everyone by Tuesday night and the Covid positive passengers and crew will be taken to Richardson Cruddas Covid Facility or private hotels.” The rest will have to undergo a seven-day mandatory quarantine, said officials.

Kakani added, “Almost all passengers are residents of Mumbai so we can’t deny them entry.”

The Mumbai Port Trust had alerted BMC three days ago and finally they had a meeting to devise a strategy Monday.

Meanwhile, Kumar said, “The Mumbai Port Trust had said that they have made arrangements to carry out testing on board but the BMC said that they can’t do it on board.” Mumbai Port Trust chairperson Rajiv Jalota said that they have extended all possible help to the administration.

Bailom also mentioned that all guests and crew members had produced Covid negative reports, procured not more than 48 hours before boarding the cruise. All onboard had to also mandatorily be fully-vaccinated, he added.

Highlighting that Cordelia Cruises had promptly alerted the authorities after several passengers tested positive in the rapid antigen tests, Bailom said, “One may hence mindfully arrive at the conjecture that the guests who have tested positive as of this morning were already infected with the virus prior to boarding.”

He added, “However, their tests showed otherwise hence they were permitted on board. We are aware of several similar incidents on flights and trains. These are unfortunate and unexpected despite everyone taking utmost care.”

Blaming lack of empathy on the part of the authorities despite cooperation from their side, Bailom said, “It was disheartening to witness lack of empathy on the part of the authorities for neither allowing local residents nor tourists to disembark. The cruise, however, will be bringing them back to Mumbai and scheduling their flights back to Goa.”

Asked why Goa did not allow the passengers to disembark, director (sales) of Cordelia Cruises Vijay Kesavan said, “This is the concern.”

Bailom further said, “We would also like to state that there were no officials present at the (Goa) port at the time of this incident. The cruise was merely receiving haphazard instructions from the collector.”

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