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Health Ministry clears 800 more cruise-ship passengers of coronavirus

Holland America Line’s Westerdam docked in Sihanoukville last week. Supplied

Almost 800 remaining passengers from the Westerdam cruise ship have been approved to leave the country after tests cleared them of coronavirus, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

Holland America Line’s Westerdam docked in Sihanoukville last week after being turned away from the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Thailand due to coronavirus fears. Testing in Cambodia for the virus has come back negative in all cases, but one 83-year-old American woman tested positive after flying to Malaysia.

The Health Ministry said 781 passengers from the ship still in Cambodia were cleared following testing by the Pasteur Institute as well as screening for symptoms.

The ministry would work with international institutions so the passengers can “continue their journeys home as soon as possible to meet their families, and to get back to daily work and life,” it said.

Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said crew on the ship were also being tested, and the 233 passengers still on the ship would be allowed to disembark and fly home.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen cast doubt on the positive coronavirus test for the 83-year-old American woman in Malaysia, saying hundreds of others from the cruise ship — including the woman’s 85-year-old husband — had tested negative for the virus.

More than 75,000 people have contracted the virus worldwide, leading to 2,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Most of the cases have so far been confined to China, where the outbreak originated.