Panama Canal blocks Holland America cruise ship with 138 ill crew members and passengers, and 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board | Vessels with "individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 on board" cannot "transit the Canal," the Panama Canal Authority said in a s

Panama Canal blocks Holland America cruise ship with 138 ill crew members and passengers, and 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board

Panama Canal blocks Holland America cruise ship with 138 ill crew members and passengers, and 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board

Panama Canal blocks Holland America cruise ship with 138 ill crew members and passengers, and 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board

Panama Canal blocks Holland America cruise ship with 138 ill crew members and passengers, and 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board

Panama Canal blocks Holland America cruise ship with 138 ill crew members and passengers, and 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board

Panama Canal blocks Holland America cruise ship with 138 ill crew members and passengers, and 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board
Panama Canal blocks Holland America cruise ship with 138 ill crew members and passengers, and 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board
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class=" bi_image size-medium wp-image-3334640" alt="Vessels with COVID-19 patients on board are not allowed to " transit the canal according to panama authority. bisrc="https://i.insider.com/5e7e80502d654f6d6b0c6482">
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Vessels with COVID-19 patients on board are not allowed to “transit the Canal,” according to the Panama Canal Authority.
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  • The MS Zaandam, a Holland America cruise ship dealing with an outbreak of respiratory illness onboard, will be barred from entering the Panama Canal, according to a Panama Canal Authority.
  • Four passengers have died aboard the ship, and Holland America confirmed that two individuals have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The cruise line also confirmed there are 138 sick passengers and crew members on board the Zaandam.
  • Are you a cruise-ship passenger or employee with a story to share? Email acain@businessinsider.com.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Panama Canal Authority will block the MS Zaandam, a Holland America cruise ship with two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board, from entering the canal.

“Following protocol of Panama’s Ministry of Health, if a vessel has individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 on board, it cannot make any port operations or transit the Canal,” the Panama Canal Authority said in a statement sent to Business Insider on March 27.

The Holland America previously considered having the ship sail through the Panama Canal in order to head back to Fort Lauderdale for a March 30 arrival. The Zaandam has been stranded off the coast of South America and Central America after different ports began closing to cruise ships due to coronavirus concerns. A bout of respiratory disease then broke out on the ship, prompting 138 sick passengers and crew members to report to the vessel’s medical center.

Holland America confirmed that four passengers have died on board, and two individuals have tested positive for COVID-19.

The cruise on the Zaandam was scheduled to last 14 days, embarking from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7. For some passengers, the cruise would end after 14 days in San Antonio, Chile. For others, it was due to April 7 in Fort Lauderdale. Those plans were diverted because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the cruise ship rerouted its course to sail north to an undetermined destination.

In a statement released on March 27, a Holland America spokesperson said that the Zaandam had rendezvoused with its sister ship the MS Rotterdam off the coast of Panama.

“We received approval from Panamanian authorities to conduct ship-to-ship operations at anchor between the two vessels,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

On March 22, the cruise line released a statement saying that its intention was to have the Zaandam head to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on March 30, where it was initially supposed to arrive on April 7. At that time, the Holland America spokesperson said in a statement that the company was “still working on securing a reservation to transit the Panama Canal.”

“Alternative options are also being developed,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Are you a cruise ship employee or passenger? Email acain@businessinsider.com.

Read the Panama Canal Authority’s full statement:

Holland America’s ship Zaandam arrived Friday, March 27 to Panamanian waters. Like all vessels that use the Panama Canal, the Zaandam had to comply with the regulations on health and prevention of contagious diseases. Following protocol of Panama’s Ministry of Health, if a vessel has individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 on board, it cannot make any port operations or transit the Canal. All ships transiting the Panama Canal require personnel, including line handlers, boarding officers, and Panama Canal pilots, to board the ship throughout the transit in order to ensure a safe passage throughout the waterway. These protocols are in place to safeguard our customers and workforce.



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