MALTA – A ship traveling from Guinea was denied entry into Maltese waters after it was disclosed that the vessel was carrying a passenger suspected of being sick with the Ebola virus. Guinea is among three countries which has suffered a widespread outbreak of west Africa’s Ebola epidemic.
The MV Western Copenhagen was on its way from Guinea to Ukraine, when an army patrol boat was dispatched to make sure the ship did not enter Maltese waters.
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the ship was turned away on late Wednesday, after its captain had sought medical assistance for a sick Filipino on board the ship. There was no word as to the condition of the other 20 passengers.
Muscat emphasized that the decision to deny the vessel entry into Maltese territory was “morally and legally correct.”
“We do not have much information. We had no way of ascertaining whether the captain was understating or overstating the situation. We do not even know if there is more than one suspected case. We do not know the magnitude of the situation and it could be a false alarm. But we will not compromise our health system,” he said.
The ship was reportedly 40 miles from Sicily and 83 miles from Malta when it radioed for medical assistance.
It is believed that the headed towards Sicily next, although no confirmation was given by the Italian health ministry, navy, and coast guard if the MV Western Copenhagen made an appeal to dock in Italy.