More than 100 Australian doctors, healthcare professionals stuck on ship due to COVID-19 restrictions

Hawaii ocean
An unconventional medical convention aboard a cruise ship has left more than 100 Australian health professionals stranded off the coast of Chile. (Pixabay)

They went on what was supposed to be an unconventional medical convention, but now more than 100 Australian doctors, dentists, and medical experts are trapped on a cruise ship off the coast of Chile.

At a time when physicians are desperately needed to treat patients sickened by the spread of coronavirus, the doctors and others can’t return home, according to a report in The Guardian.

The health professionals were attendees at a medical conference cruise on the Roald Amundsen vessel and have been prevented from disembarking from the ship because of COVID-19 restrictions, according to the newspaper.

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While none of the passengers on board are believed to have coronavirus, the ship is being prevented from docking at the Chilean port of Punta Arenas, which has been closed in response to the pandemic, the report said. 

Chile banned cruise vessels from docking until September after an elderly passenger on one cruise ship tested positive for coronavirus. The ban was announced on Twitter Sunday by Chile’s health minister and the doctors' ship is one of several stranded as a result. 

The doctors were on board for a cruise to Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, and the Chilean Fjords as part of a combined medical and dental conference put on by Unconventional Conventions.

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The cruise company, Hurtigruten, told the newspaper it was working with the Chilean government, local authorities, embassies, airports, and airlines to arrange disembarkation as soon as possible, according to the report.

In the meantime, the passengers are being well cared for. The ship launched last year, and has three restaurants, a gym and wellness center, an infinity pool and hot tubs, the report said.

At least if any passengers become ill, they will be in good hands with all those doctors on board.