Coronavirus: Crew on virus-hit cruise ship allowed to disembark in Uruguay

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Crew members have been on board for almost two months

Crew members of the cruise ship hit by coronavirus Greg Mortimer were allowed to land in Uruguay after nearly two months at sea.

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Of the more than 60 crew members, 36 tested positive for the virus.

The ship's passengers had already landed last month and flew home.

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Meanwhile, two crew members became seriously ill with Covid-19 and were hospitalized. One, who was from the Philippines, died later. The other recovered and was taken back to Poland.

After landing on Tuesday, the crew who tested positive were taken to a hotel in Montevideo to be quarantined, while the others were taken to a separate hotel in the city.

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Of the more than 60 crew members on board, 36 tested positive for the coronavirus

Greg Mortimer, owned by Australian company Aurora Expeditions, was taking more than 200 people to Antarctica, South Georgia and Elephant Island – but the tour was canceled on March 20.

This was because the closest South American countries – Argentina and Chile – closed their borders and imposed blockades.

It finally docked in Montevideo on March 27, but was not allowed to dock in the port until April 10.

Uruguayan Foreign Minister Ernesto Talvi said it was necessary to allow the crew to disembark because people infected with the virus were not recovering.

"If we don't remove them, they won't heal," he said at the port. "We made the decision to disembark, taking all health measures for citizens".

Talvi added that none of the 36 crews that tested positive were showing symptoms and that the ship would be completely disinfected.

The hotels where the crew will be quarantined are closed to the public and are being supervised by the Ministry of Health. The crew will not be able to leave their rooms and will carry out daily health checks.

After two weeks, people without symptoms and with negative results will be able to leave Uruguay on commercial flights.

Another 20 crew members remain on board, however, because they are considered essential for the safety of the boat. They all tested negative for the virus.

If they still show negative results "in two or three weeks," the boat will sail to Las Palmas, Spain, said Talvi.

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