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S. Korea strengthens quarantine for cruise ships amid coronavirus concerns

All News 11:13 February 10, 2020

SEOUL/BUSAN, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has been beefing up quarantine for cruise ships seeking to dock at seaports here, amid fresh concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus following 70 cases reported on a cruise ship off Japan.

Three cruise ships that sailed from Japan and Taiwan were supposed to dock at South Korean ports, including the southeastern city of Busan, this month.

But two cruise liners, set to arrive here on Tuesday and Wednesday, have canceled their visits, according to the Busan Port Authority (BPA), amid the country's strengthened quarantine for the virus.

For cruise ships that left or traveled through countries where the virus has been reported in the past 14 days, if even one passenger or crew member shows fever or other symptoms of respiratory disease, the BPA will not permit any passenger or the crew to disembark at Busan.

"Amid the beefed-up quarantine process, the ships canceled their plan to dock here in anticipation that their entry may be denied as we earlier warned we would apply stricter rules to a vessel whose entry was rejected at a previous port," a BPA official said.

This photo, taken Feb. 9, 2020, shows the international passenger terminal at the port in the southeastern city of Busan. Cruise ships canceled their stops at the port amid South Korea's stepped-up quarantine process for a new strain of coronavirus. (Yonhap)

Concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus on cruise ships has mounted after 70 cases of the virus were found on a cruise ship currently in quarantine off the Japanese coast near Yokohama.

The contagious disease could spread quickly on a cruise ship as thousands of passengers and crew live in a confined space using the same facilities for days or weeks at a time.

Foreign cruise lines appear to be choosing South Korean ports as an alternative to Chinese ones following the outbreak of the new coronavirus that has killed more than 900 people in China.

To prevent infection with the coronavirus, the BPA has strengthened its quarantine and screening process for cruise ships whose passengers get off or embark in Busan, the destination most preferred by foreign cruise liners among Korean ports.

But the port operator said it will allow cruise ships to make a port entry to Busan this month to get oil and goods if they have no record of visiting China in the past two weeks. Disembarkation by crew members will be restricted.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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