Skip to main content
CNN EditionHealth
The Web     
Powered by
powered by Yahoo!

Ship off Hong Kong issues SARS distress call

Doctors will board cargo vessel to assess crew's symptoms

Pedestrians wearing surgical masks walk in downtown Hong Kong.
Pedestrians wearing surgical masks walk in downtown Hong Kong.

Story Tools

more video VIDEO
Hong Kong residents are breathing sighs of relief and taking off their masks. The worst of the SARS outbreak may be over. CNN's Andrew Brown has the details. (May 2)
premium content

Indonesia is restricting people from working overseas, fearing they might bring back SARS. Other nations are worried the workers will import it. CNN's Atika Shubert looks at the effect on the Indonesian economy. (May 2)
premium content

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Hong Kong officials prepared to receive a cargo ship Saturday whose captain issued a distress call, saying 10 of its 24 crew members seem to be suffering symptoms of SARS, government officials said Saturday.

"We have made all necessary preparations to respond to the vessel's call in Hong Kong on humanitarian grounds," Permanent Secretary for Health Carrie Yau told reporters.

The Malaysian-flagged 9,025-ton chemical cargo vessel Bunga Melawis Satu was expected to arrive in Hong Kong waters Sunday morning, Health Director Margaret Chan said.

The sick crew members, all of whom are of Indian origin, displayed SARS symptoms, including fever, cough and joint pain, and one of them reportedly is seriously ill, Chan said.

She noted that the symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome are similar to those of such common illnesses as flu and dengue fever.

"At this stage, we should not jump to the conclusion to say whether or not they are suffering from SARS," she said.

The government received the ship's distress call Friday, when it was 100 nautical miles southeast of the southern Chinese island of Hainan, authorities said.

"The director of the marine department had recommended that the ship should land at the nearest port of call, but the ship decided to sail instead to Hong Kong," Yau said.

"According to international regulations, we cannot prohibit any vessel from entering Hong Kong, therefore we need to honor our obligations," Yau added.

The ship, which had been en route from Bangkok, Thailand, to the southern Chinese port of Huangpuj in Guangzhou province, will be moored near outlying Lamma Island, where a team of doctors and nurses will board the ship "to do the initial health assessment," she said.

Those in need of further treatment will be taken to Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong, she said.

Asymptomatic crew members will be held in quarantine for 10 days and the vessel will be disinfected, she said. The World Health Organization has been alerted.

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Candy makers target fitness market
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.