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Cruise passengers shunned over coronavirus to head home after Cambodia reprieve

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (Reuters) – Passengers on a cruise ship that spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by five countries over fears that someone aboard might have the coronavirus cheered and clapped as the vessel finally arrived at a port in Cambodia on Thursday.

The MS Westerdam, carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, docked at the Cambodian port town of Sihanoukville in the evening after anchoring offshore early in the morning to allow Cambodian officials to board the vessel and collect samples from passengers with any signs of ill health or flu-like symptoms.

Fluid samples from 20 people were sent by helicopter to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, for virus tests, local officials said.

“We’ve had so many near moments we thought we were going home only to be turned away,” Angela Jones, an American tourist on board, told Reuters in a text message. “This morning, just seeing land was such a breathtaking moment.”

Jones and her fellow passengers have spent almost two weeks at sea as several countries refused to let their ship dock.

The timing of their final journeys home was still uncertain, however, as the ship faces health checks by authorities and passengers need to be taken to Phnom Penh to catch charter flights.

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