March 16, 2020 / 3:03 PM / 19 days ago

Coronavirus-hit British cruise ship finds refuge in Cuba

HAVANA (Reuters) - A British cruise ship that was turned away from several ports in the Caribbean after five passengers were confirmed to have the new coronavirus is setting sail to Cuba which is allowing it to dock, its owner Fred Olsen Cruise Lines wrote in a statement.

“The Captain of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines ship Braemar has announced on board that he is setting sail to Cuba, where all guests will be repatriated back to the UK by air,” the company wrote.

It added that 22 guests and 21 crew aboard the ship are in isolation after displaying influenza-like symptoms, including the five who tested positive, it wrote.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez tweeted: “Decision has been taken in response to health emergency that might put the life of sick persons at risk.”

Earlier a diplomatic source said Cuba had offered to receive the cruise ship because it understood “the difficult situation these people are in”.

“We are working around the clock to arrange evacuation flights from Cuba to the UK as soon as possible,” a British foreign ministry spokesperson said.

Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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