PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cuba Will Let Cruise Ship With Coronavirus Cases Dock, Says 'Passengers' Lives At Risk'

The cruise ship MS Braemar anchored off the Bahamas on Saturday.
The cruise ship MS Braemar anchored off the Bahamas on Saturday.

Cuba has confirmed only four cases of the new coronavirus. But the island is about to get at least five more cases – temporarily. 

Here's why:

Over the weekend the MS Braemar, a British cruise liner sailing in the Caribbean, found it had five confirmed coronavirus cases onboard. Because of that, no Caribbean port would let the ship dock.

But the Braemar was anchored off the Bahamas Monday morning when it got relief from Cuba. In a tweet, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said the island will permit the ship to dock there, insisting “the sick passengers’ lives [are] at risk.”

When the ship arrives, presumably at Havana,  it may have more than five cases of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. The Braemar said 22 other passengers and 20 crew members also have flu-like symptoms of what could be COVID-19.

In total there are 682 passengers and 381 crew aboard the Braemar, which is owned by the U.K.-based Fred Olsen cruise line. Rodríguez said the passengers will be allowed to disembark in Cuba and arrange to fly back to the U.K. But he added all international health protocols will be followed in the process.

Cuba is eager to show it has the coronavirus crisis under control on the island. It depends heavily on tourism to keep its struggling economy afloat.

WLRN depends on donors to remain South Florida’s leading nonprofit, most trusted source of news and information. Support our mission by giving monthly as a sustaining member of Friends of WLRN or make a one-time donation of your choice. Thank you.  Click here to give .

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. He has reported on Latin America for almost 30 years - for Newsweek as its Mexico City bureau chief from 1990 to 1996, and for Time as its Latin America bureau chief in Mexico and Miami (where he also covered Florida and the U.S. Southeast) from 1996 to 2013.