The owners of the tanker that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said asked to dock in St. Vincent with two crewmembers suspected of having Ebola on board, has denied that the vessel was scheduled to or asked to dock in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
MOL Tankship Management (Europe) Ltd., in a statement to I-Witness News, further said that the two crewmembers had “symptoms of a chest infection” and had not visited any country where Ebola was present.
They said that the vessel, a chemical tanker, Noble Spirit, was refused entry into Jamaica and Barbados.
“The facts are that the two Filipino crew members joined the Noble Spirit in the United States on September 30th after flying directly from the Philippines. Neither of them had ever visited Ebola infected countries and neither has the vessel ever called at ports in Ebola infected countries,” the statement said.
Cases of Ebola have been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States.
Two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the United States. Thomas Eric Duncan, who was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas on Sept. 30, died of Ebola.
The statement said that on Oct. 9, while the Noble Spirit was en route in ballast from Houston to Equatorial Guinea, the Filipino crewmembers “complained of symptoms of a chest infection” and were treated onboard under advice from Radio Medical Assistance Rome.
“CIRM Roma did, however, recommend that they be landed at a convenient port for chest examination and tests. The authorities in Kingston, Jamaica and Barbados both refused to allow the vessel to enter or the crew to disembark.
“Noble Spirit subsequently sailed directly to Equatorial Guinea as the two crew members fully recovered after a few days treatment from what was a minor chest infection, while the rest of the crew are all in a healthy condition,” the statement said.
The company, in response to further inquiries from I-Witness News, maintained that the vessel was not scheduled to call at any port in St. Vincent and the Grenadines “at all.
“We stand by our original statement,” the company said, noting that the ship did try to dock in Jamaica and Barbados “to send two patients for the check up though”.
Gonsalves told Parliament on Oct. 24, that around 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 14, he received a call from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Godfred Pompey saying that the Noble Spirit, was off Jamaica and but was denied entry there because two Filipino, who boarded at Houston, Texas on Oct. 10, had high fever and vomiting — two of the symptoms of deadly Ebola virus.
Gonsalves said the tanker was scheduled to call at SVG at 11 p.m. that same night.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, said he instructed the Coastguard, the Signal Station and all the relevant agencies that the vessel would not be permitted to enter the waters of SVG.
“It turns out that when it came down from St. Lucia, we allowed it innocent passage, it changed its course and went to Barbados, and was not allowed to land in Barbados,” Gonsalves said.