Church of Scientology cruise ship quarantined after measles case moves to Curacao

Saturday, May 4, 2019
Cruise ship quarantined after measles case is identified
ABC's Elizabeth Hur reports on the cruise ship measles emergency in the Caribbean.

SAINT LUCIA, Car. -- The Church of Scientology cruise ship Freewinds that was quarantined on the island nation of St. Lucia because of a measles emergency has moved to its home port.

Hundreds of passengers and crew were reportedly trapped on the cruise ship on the Caribbean island for three days starting Thursday morning after authorities confirmed someone on board has the virus.

The local government ordered the 300 crew and passengers aboard the Freewinds to stay on the ship while it investigates. The 440-foot ship reportedly belongs to the Church of Scientology.

The majority of the passangers aboard are crew members, including the woman who had tested positive for measles.

Authorities said they plan to quarantine the ship again once it arrives in Willemstad, Curacao, its home port. There, a team of local health officials will assess those on board before consulting with international health agencies on a disembarkation plan, ABC News has learned.

The ship was scheduled to arrive Saturday morning at daybreak.

"We got information early [Thursday] morning through two sources, two reputable sources, that there was a confirmed case of measles on board a cruise ship which visited our island," said Dr. Merlene Fredricks James.

The CDC is already tracking the worst spike in the U.S in decades, with more than 700 cases across 22 states. The outbreak mostly hitting people who are unvaccinated.

"It first starts with cold symptoms-fever, cough, runny nose and sometimes red eyes and that can last about 3 or 4 days before the rash comes on," said Dr. Vikram Anand. "So if you haven't been vaccinated and you have what might seem like a bad cold, it might actually be measles."

Doctors say it is one of the most highly contagious viruses in the world if an unprotected person is exposed to the measles. They say they have a 90% chance of contracting the disease.