As Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) spreads rapidly in South Korea, ports in the country are taking measures to prevent its spread.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare noted through a press statement on 12 June that 126 people have been diagnosed with MERS since the country’s first patient was reported on 20 May. Currently 11 have died from the disease.
Given the situation, cruises have cancelled port calls in South Korea. Through its official blog, Royal Caribbean announced on 11 June that it cancelled stops in South Korea for Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, and Quantum of the Seas. Italian-based Costa Victoria also cancelled its visit to Incheon Port on 10 June.
National Quarantine Station in Busan, the largest port city in the country, told IHS Maritime, “Since the outbreak began, all quarantine procedures not only for ships coming from the Middle East but also from other places have been completed on board. At the moment, any electronic quarantine is not allowed. Our quarantine officials on board check each crew member’s fever and condition closely.”
National Quarantine Station in Pyeongtaek, which is closer to Chinese ports than any other port cities in South Korea, told IHS Maritime, “Only ships from China call at the Pyeongtaek port; however, we have increased the number of quarantine officials just in case.”
The quarantine station emphasised that ferry passengers have been provided with masks and wet tissues before disembarking. Also, on-board announcements have been made and brochures with information on MERS prevention are being handed out to passengers upon arrival.