The Holland America cruise ship with four dead passengers on board who were infected with COVID-19 received clearance Sunday morning to cross the Panama Canal and head toward Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, according to reports.
The Panama Canal Authority backtracked from an earlier statement which stated a person would not be allowed passage through the canal if they were infected with the virus.
In a revised statement, the canal authority says it “supports all efforts being made to ensure an expedited return home for cruise passengers and crew on Holland America’s Zaandaam, which is the ship in reference.
UPDATE 3/28 (8 pm PT): We are aware of reported permission for Zaandam and Rotterdam to transit the Panama Canal. We appreciate this consideration in the humanitarian interest of our guests and crew. We continue to work with the Panamanian authorities to finalize details.
— Holland America Line (@HALcruises) March 29, 2020
Healthy passengers are being allowed to depart the cruise ship at the Panama Canal and transferring to Holland America’s other ship, the Rotterdam.
The cruise ship, which was on a South American journey, was first denied entry into Chile. Since that time, the four individuals have died, another two just tested positive for the virus, and the number of passengers and crew with flu-like symptoms has increased to 138.
However, no date has been announced as to when the Zaandaam may cross the canal to get to the United States.