Curacao health officials have tested passengers aboard the Church of Scientology cruise ship Freewinds for measles after a staff member came down with a suspected case of the disease last week.
Freewinds was quarantined after arriving at St. Lucia last Tuesday and a female crew member was placed in isolation inside the ship as health officials on the Caribbean island feared more people could be sick.
The ship was allowed to return to Curacao harbor, its home port, on Saturday morning.
A total of nine medical professionals and authorities led by Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth went on the ship as representatives of the Curacao Health Department Sunday, according to CNN affiliate Telecuracao.
Gerstenbluth told Telecuracao the medical team had been impressed with the quarantine conditions on the ship.
The one suspected patient has passed her “incubation period” and Gerstenbluth said he was not alarmed by her condition, Telecuracao reported.
The Curacao team interviewed around 318 people aboard the ship and took blood samples from some. The samples have been sent to the Netherlands for testing. It is unclear when the results will be returned, Gerstenbluth said. Meantime passengers and crew are staying on board the ship and there is no indication of when it will leave Curacao.
Telecuracao journalist Miguel Perret Gentil said that the suspected measles case had not caused alarm on Curacao as it was contained on the ship. He said the island’s population is believed to be well-vaccinated.
Ship requests vaccine in St. Lucia
Before leaving St. Lucia on Thursday, the ship’s doctor requested 100 doses of the measles vaccine, according to a statement from the St. Lucia Department of Health and Wellness, “and this is currently being provided from our supplies, at no cost.”
Crew members and passengers were being monitored by the ship’s doctor, Thursday’s statement said. “Continued surveillance is necessary as the incubation period for measles ranges from 10 to 12 days before symptoms in exposed persons occur,” the statement added.
St. Lucia’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James said “given the highly infectious nature of the disease, it is likely that others may have been exposed.” No one was allowed to disembark the ship.
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Fredericks-James previously said health officials were using authority given to them by the nation’s quarantine act and public health act.
The Church of Scientology hasn’t responded to CNN’s request for comment. It says on its website the ship is a religious retreat.
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or if someone comes into direct contact or shares germs by touching the same objects or surfaces. Symptoms may include fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash of red spots.
Measles cases in the United States have surpassed the highest number on record since the disease was declared eliminated nationwide in 2000.
CNN’s Steve Almasy and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.