A Church of Scientology cruise ship has been quarantined with hundreds of people on board after health officials became aware that one of them was infected with measles.
The cruise ship, which is owned by the church and used as a religious retreat, was ordered to be quarantined in the port of St Lucia in the Carribean on Monday, NBC News reports. A female member of the crew has a confirmed case of the highly contagious virus, while other passengers and crew members are being monitored by the ship's doctor.
"As per the public health act [...] and discussions with external agencies we thought it prudent that we quarantine the ship. No one was allowed to leave the ship. The crew and passengers aboard were not allowed to leave," Dr Merlene Fredericks James, the Caribbean nation's chief medical officer, said in a video statement on Tuesday.
She went on to outline that there are outbreaks all over the US because people have not been taking the available vaccine, and the measure was taken to stop the spread to St Lucia, which has been measles-free since 1990.
"Measles, as we know, is a highly infectious disease. One infected person can easily infect others through coughing... so because of the risk of potential infection, not just from the measles case but from other persons who may be on this boat, we thought it prudent not to allow anyone to disembark," Dr Fredericks James said.
"The Ministry of Health is currently investigating the situation."
Health officials declined to name the ship, but the coast guard told NBC that it was notorious Scientology ship the Freewinds, where Tom Cruise spent his 42nd birthday.
"The Freewinds is a very special place," the Church of Scientology write on their website. "It is the one place a Scientologist may go and be certain he will be able to devote himself entirely to his religious practice and in the company of people who share his religious commitment and outlook on life in general."
We have a feeling a measles outbreak might distract from that somewhat.
The Department of Health and Wellness revealed in an update on Thursday that the crew and passengers are stable and being observed by the ship's doctor, as "continued surveillance is necessary as the incubation period for measles ranges from 10 to 12 days before symptoms in exposed persons occur." The doctor has requested 100 doses of the measles vaccine, which the Department of Health has given to the crew at no cost.
CNN reports that the ship has likely now left St Lucia, still with all the quarantined passengers on board. It's likely that the ship will head to its home port of Curaçao, though this has not been confirmed.