Australian and New Zealand passengers will be evacuated from a stricken Antarctic cruise ship Thursday, after almost 60% of those on board tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Greg Mortimer, a cruise liner operated by Australia’s Aurora Expeditions, departed March 15 on a voyage to Antarctica and South Georgia. Since the beginning of April, however, the ship has been stuck off the coast of Uruguay, after authorities refused to allow passengers to disembark due to the risk of coronavirus.
In a statement earlier this month, Aurora said that the ship’s doctor had developed a fever, and “we are organizing a back-up volunteer medic.” The cruise operator added it had “formally escalated our request” to the Uruguayan authorities to allow the ship to dock and passengers to disembark, but it had so far been denied.
Late Tuesday, the Uruguayan government said it had authorized a medical flight evacuation of New Zealand and Australian passengers aboard the Greg Mortimer for later this week. The passengers will fly to Melbourne on Thursday on a plane chartered by Aurora, where they will undergo a mandated 14-day quarantine before proceeding to their final destinations.