Quarantine Ends for Most Aboard Scientologists' Cruise Ship
Curacao's government says that most of the passengers and crew of the cruise ship Freewinds are now free to go after an extended period in quarantine. The vessel, which is owned by the Church of Scientology, has not been allowed to disembark anyone since late April.
On April 30, health officials in St. Lucia imposed a quarantine on the vessel after learning that one member of the ship's crew had come down with measles. The local government provided about 100 doses of the measles vaccine at the request of the ship's physician.
Freewinds departed St. Lucia for her home port of Curacao on May 2, arriving on May 4. The government of Curacao continued the quarantine, and health officials administered blood tests to those on board to determine whether they could catch or spread the disease.
On Tuesday, favorable results came back for 199 crewmembers and 91 passengers. "That means that they are not running a risk of contracting the disease and are no threat to transmit the disease to others. In other words, there is no reason to keep them on board. They are free to move," epidemiologist Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth told CNN.
[Update: In a statement Wednesday, the Church of Scientology said that all passengers and crew have been cleared to go and the quarantine has come to an end.]
The U.S.-based Church of Scientology has owned the Freewinds (ex name Bohème) since 1986. The group uses the vessel for administering the top levels of its structured program of spiritual certification.
"The most advanced [Operating Thetan] level (New OT VIII) is exclusively entrusted to the [Freewinds]," Scientology says on its website. "To a Scientologist, boarding the Freewinds . . is the most significant spiritual accomplishment of his lifetime and brings with it the full realization of his immortality."