Fears are going viral

My Nikkel's Worth column

The new coronavirus is a major concern in Asia, particularly China, and there are rather extraordinary precautions being taken to try and control it.

At some point, you have to wonder if there needs to be some common sense injected into this whole situation. There are precautions, and then there’s just plain going overboard (the pun is only partially unintended there, as you shall see).

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We received an email on Saturday from a Weyburn couple I know fairly well, Tom and Marilyn Schuck, that they were on a cruise ship in southeast Asia, and at the time were without a port.

The reason was pure fear of the coronavirus, but this time, it was a fear that went too far.

The virus had impacted three cruise ships in the region, two of them docked with infected passengers or crew: the Diamond Princess, at dock in Japan, and the World Dream docked in Hong Kong.

The ship the Schucks are on is the MS Westerdam, which has over 2,000 passengers and crew on board, and not a single one of them is known to have the coronavirus. In spite of this, the ship was punished because they had picked up passengers at Hong Kong on Feb. 1, and for one of the ports, Manila, this was enough to deny them the ability to dock.

The Philippines had just closed entry to any travelers from China, Hong Kong or Macau, after the first death due to coronavirus outside of China occurred there.

This precaution made sense, to an extent, but the fact remained, there were and are no cases of infection on board the Westerdam.

In spite of this, three other ports also denied entry to the ship, and they literally sailed around circles in the region while they tried to figure out what to do.

In their most recent message to me, they said they have now been granted permission to dock in Bangkok, Thailand (where the Schucks had already been on this cruise) on Thursday, unless the Thai government changes their mind. Here’s hoping that they will finally be able to come home after floating around on the ocean.

As an aside, Tom said while they were walking around the ship, they heard their names being mentioned in a conversation, and found out that a couple from Saskatoon had read my online story about them. So that was cool, to hear that the story was being read on the Westerdam.