Woman on board Church of Scientology cruise ship has measles


Authorities in Curacao debated on Friday how to respond to a ship with 300 people aboard that is heading to the Dutch Caribbean island after being placed under quarantine in nearby St. Lucia because of a confirmed case of measles. They said proof is required, and that people who do not comply will be vaccinated immediately.

A tracking map on MarineTraffic.com shows the vessel left the port city of Castries on St. Lucia last night and is due to arrive at Willemstad, Curacao, on Saturday morning. Church officials have not returned messages for comment. The ship reportedly belongs to the Church of Scientology.

On its website, the Church of Scientology explains that for a Scientologist, boarding the Freewinds is "the pinnacle of a deeply spiritual journey".

"The confirmed case as well as other crew members are presently stable, but remain under surveillance by the ship's doctor", she said, noting the incubation period of measles is 10 to 12 days before symptoms appear.

Freewinds, a United States based cruise ship, owned and operated by the Church of Scientology, was earlier this week quarantined in St. Lucia when it was discovered that a passenger had contracted measles.

Curacao health officials then alerted authorities in St. Lucia, who banned passengers from disembarking when they reached island.

Officials urged anyone who visited the ship from April 22-28 to get a medical checkup.

The quarantine of almost 300 passengers aboard the ship has taken place among a nationwide outbreak of measles, as almost 700 cases have been reported across the United States.

Measles is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus that replicates in the nose and throat of an infected child or adult.

Measles has sickened more than 700 people in 22 USA states this year, with federal officials saying the resurgence is driven by misinformation about vaccines.