The cruise ship MS Zaandam, where passengers have died on board, navigates through the pacific side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, March 29, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
A cruise ship hit by the novel coronavirus on Monday completed passing the Panama Canal, sailing towards the southeastern US state of Florida.
The MS Zaandam, operated by Holland America Line, received special humanitarian authorization from the Panamanian government to pass the canal on Sunday, canal administrator Ricaurte Vasquez said at a press conference.
Four passengers on the MS Zaandam died, two of whom died of COVID-19, he said.
The MS Zaandam left Argentina on March 7 and could not dock again at a South American port due to the pandemic. On March 27, it dropped anchor in Panamanian waters on the Pacific side to wait for help from Holland America's another ship, the MS Rotterdam.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) coordinated with cruise operators to transfer passengers with no virus symptoms from the MS Zaandam to the MS Rotterdam, and offered medical supplies.
The two cruise ships are now heading towards Fort Lauderdale in Florida.