Scientology cruise ship passengers to remain under quarantine until blood samples are tested for measles

The 216 crew members and 102 passengers aboard were prevented from disembarking upon their arrival at Willemstad, Curacao, after being first quarantined at their previous stop in St. Lucia


                            Scientology cruise ship passengers to remain under quarantine until blood samples are tested for measles

Health officials have confirmed that hundreds of crew members and passengers aboard the Church of Scientology cruise ship Freewinds will be forced to remain under quarantine and not leave the ship until their blood samples come back negative for measles.

The ship was first quarantined in St. Lucia after a female crew member tested positive for measles but is now healthy. According to Izzy Gerstenbluth, the head of the Epidemiology and Research Unit at Curacao’s Ministry of Health, the 216 crew members and 102 passengers were again prevented from disembarking upon arrival at Willemstad, Curacao, on Saturday, May 4 morning, stated an ABC News report.

The Freewinds cruise ship is docked in the port of Castries, the capital of St. Lucia, Thursday, May 2, 2019. Authorities in the eastern Caribbean island have quarantined the ship after discovering a confirmed case of measles aboard. (AP Photo/Bradley Lacan)

Gerstenbluth, an epidemiologist and public health physician leading Curacao's response, led a team aboard the ship on Saturday and interviewed all the passengers and crew members onboard. Furthermore, they also collected documentation from those who had previously been vaccinated or diagnosed to be immune to the disease.

Health officials took blood samples from 277 people to test for measles after only 31 crew members and 10 passengers were able to provide valid proof of vaccination, according to Gerstenbluth.

The passengers and crew will stay put on the cruise ship until Curacao officials get the test results by Wednesday at the latest. They are expected to consult with health authorities in the Netherlands and the Pan American Health Organization before letting cruise members disembark.

While everyone is required to remain in quarantine for the said duration, Gerstenbluth said the mood aboard the cruise ship was positive.

The Freewinds is described on their website as "a religious retreat that marks for Scientologists the pinnacle of their journey to total spiritual freedom."

The Freewinds cruise ship is docked in the port of Castries, the capital of St. Lucia, Thursday, May 2, 2019 (AP Photo/Bradley Lacan)

Authorities did not allow anyone to leave the ship on April 30 when it docked in St. Lucia after a possible measles scare.

The following day, an unidentified crew member tested positive, forcing authorities to enforce quarantine until the ship left on May 2 night. The crew member has since recovered. "The irony is she’s probably the safest on board," Gerstenbluth said.

The Freewinds had to cancel a planned stop in Dominica due to the measles case. Furthermore, it also canceled a departure for Aruba previously scheduled for May 5 night, according to officials.