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The Freewinds cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology is seen docked in quarantine at the Point Seraphine terminal in Castries, Saint Lucia. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Scientology ship remains under measles quarantine in Caribbean scare

Twenty-eight people required to stay on Freewinds after female crew member came down with virus

WT24 Desk

Authorities in the Caribbean island of Curacao have announced that 17 crew members and 11 passengers must stay on board a ship owned by the Church of Scientology that is under quarantine following a confirmed case of measles, AP reports.

Dr Izzy Gerstenbluth said the group was required to stay on the 440-feet Freewinds ship until 13 May because they were still at risk of contracting measles after a female crew member came down with the virus.

He said the remaining 318 crew and passengers were free to leave. “They are not a threat to anyone any more, and they cannot become sick any more.”

According to the church’s website, the ship is the home of “a religious retreat ministering the most advanced level of spiritual counselling”.

The ship was previously quarantined in St Lucia and arrived in its home port of Curacao a week ago. Authorities then took 277 blood samples from those who did not have proof of vaccination and sent the samples to the Netherlands.

Gerstenbluth said the infected crew member had been in Europe and arrived on 17 April in Curacao with cold symptoms. Authorities said she got tested for measles but had already left for St Lucia by the time the results came back. Officials then alerted the government of St Lucia.

More than 700 people in 22 US states have contracted measles this year, with federal officials saying the resurgence is driven by misinformation about vaccines. Symptoms include runny nose, fever and a red-spotted rash. Most people recover but it can lead to pneumonia, brain swelling and death.

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