The Falkland Islands came under further criticism Tuesday for refusing to allow a cruise ship with an outbreak of stomach flu to dock, as passengers complained about their missed travel plans and an expert called the decision an overreaction.
Tourists on the Star Princess told The Associated Press they were forced to cancel long-planned trips when officials in the disputed British territory off Argentina refused them entry Saturday, saying an outbreak could strain the archipelago’s medical resources.
Some people are characterizing this as going overboard, and may be politically motivated. It may be disappointing to the tourists, but I cant say I honestly blame the decision of the Falkland Island administrators. Others disagree:
But Norman Noah, an infectious diseases expert at London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, described the Falklands’ decision as “over the top.”
“If you’re suffering from vomiting and diarrhea, you probably won’t be sightseeing,” Noah said. “Chances are you’ll be staying in your cabin by yourself.”
Thats specious. 1– People shed virus before they are symptomatic. 2– People shed virus after they have ‘gotten better’ and are no longer symptomatic. 3– People can shed virus without showing any symptoms at all (something like 30% of infections can be asymptomatic). The passengers would be using restrooms on the islands and then eating and using door handles and thumbing through merchandise in shops– this isnt like a day trip to Antarctica where everyone has to go back to the ship to potty and eat, thus the virus would be contained to the ship population. Norovirus would almost certainly spread from the ship to the population living on the islands.
The population living on the islands is ~3100. The population on the ship was ~3500.
I dont blame the islands for being wary of potentially needing to treat their own population and potentially some of the ships population for complications due to norovirus infection. Antibiotics and IV fluids they would need for other patients.
And then, its not just the population on the Falkland Islands that could be infected by that ship. If the ship infects the locals, when the next ship comes to dock, that population could get infected by the locals, and their trip is ruined too.
The Falklands has defended its decision as being made “in the wider interests of the public and tourism industry,” according to a statement from the island’s chief medical officer. “An outbreak in the Falkland Islands would put enormous pressure on our limited medical resources and jeopardize other scheduled cruise visits,” the statement said.
Was that decision a shitty one to make? Yes. But I dont think it was unreasonable, nor do I think it had anything to do with politics. Its just a shitty virus.