Scientology cruise ship quarantined off St Lucia coast over measles case

Scientology cruise ship quarantined off St Lucia coast over measles case

"The confirmed case as well as other crew members are presently stable but remain under surveillance by the ship's doctor", Frederick-James said, noting the incubation period of measles is 10 to 12 days before symptoms appear. The Freewinds is scheduled to depart St. Lucia at noon Thursday, according to NBC News.

John Carmichael, president of the Church of Scientology in NY explained to the Beliefnet website that there was not official stance on vaccinations "as a religious principle".

NBC News reports the vessel is owned by the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds website describes the ship as "a religious retreat that marks for Scientologists the pinnacle of their journey to total spiritual freedom".

The church's media centre was not immediately available for comment.

St. Lucia, which became independent from the United Kingdom in the 1970s, can decide to either detain the ship or let the vessel go says John Paul Jones, a professor emeritus law at the University of Richmond School of Law who has taught maritime law.

Highly contagious, though vaccine-preventable, measles can spread when an infected person sneezes, coughs or even breathes.

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"We got information early this morning through two reputable sources that there was a confirmed case of measles on board a cruise ship which visited our island", she said.

In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter the Church of Scientology regarding vaccination said "it takes no position one way or the other on this issue". Authorities in St. Lucia are working with the Pan American Health Organization and Caribbean Public Health Agency to oversee the quarantine.

The St. Lucia Times posted an image of the ship Wednesday and several marine tracking websites show the ship in Port Castries on the Caribbean island.

Fredericks-James said no one was allowed to disembark from the ship. While part of the problem is anti-vaxxers refusing to vaccinate their children due to the debunked belief that vaccines cause autism, the outbreak of measles has also been fueled by other, global factors.

The vast majority of USA cases have occurred in children who have not received vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), officials said.

St Lucian officials declined to name the ship involved.

Earlier this week, USA health officials reported that more than 700 people had been infected by measles this year, marking a 25-year high for cases of the infectious disease in the country.

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