A cruise ship reportedly owned and operated by the Church of Scientology has been quarantined by medical authorities in St. Lucia after a female crew member was diagnosed as having measles. The ship, identified by St. Lucia Coast Guard Sergeant Victor Theodore as the ‘Freewinds’, has over 300 passengers and crew, all of whom have been forbidden from leaving since the ship was first quarantined on Monday.
‘Freewinds’ is the name of a 440 foot cruiser owned by the Church of Scientology, although the organization have declined to comment at this time.
“Measles in a highly contagious disease. Anyone who is not adequately immunized against measles can contract the disease, if there has been close contact with a confirmed case,” said Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James, Chief Medical Officer of the nation of St. Lucia, in an official statement. “It is therefore likely that other persons on the boat may have been exposed… Because of the risk of potential infection, not just from the confirmed measles case but from other persons who may be on the boat at the time, we thought it prudent to make a decision not to allow anyone to disembark.”
She added that the ship’s physician has got the confirmed case in isolation on the ship, and they are currently in a stable condition.
The United States is currently in the middle of a measles outbreak; the largest of its kind in 25 years. While measles is easily preventable with vaccinations, a recent proliferation of “anti-vax” content online by a number of celebrities and bloggers has influenced the decision-making of many parents when it comes to vaccinating their children.
The Church of Scientology has never taken an official stance on vaccinations, with Church President John Carmichael saying: “Scientologists are pretty independent people, though I will say this: they tend to do a little more research, perhaps, on the effect of various medical procedures… They make their own decisions, but those aren’t decisions that the church tries to influence in any way.”
NBC News reports that the Freewinds is currently scheduled to leave port at 11:59 p.m. tonight.
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