Nearly 300 passengers and crew members aboard the Freewinds cruise ship—which, according to Coast Guard officials, shares the name of a cruise ship operated by the Church of Scientology—were ordered quarantined in the port of the Caribbean island St. Lucia over an apparent measles case, according to NBC News.
Island health officials confirmed Wednesday that a case of measles was confirmed to have stricken a female crew member. The ship has been under quarantine since Monday morning, and the island health authorities are working with the Pan American Health Organisation and Caribbean Public Health Agency to keep the situation under control.
From the NBC report:
“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,” Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James, the island’s chief medical officer said via statement Wednesday. “It is therefore likely that other persons on the boat may have been exposed.
“The ship’s doctor has the confirmed case in isolation on the ship,” he added. “The individual is in stable condition.”
While St. Lucia health officials did not name the ship involved, NBC News confirmed via the St. Lucia Coast Guard that the vessel is named Freewinds. The Freewinds is the name of the Church of Scientology’s 134.11m cruise ship.
Here’s what we do know about the Freewinds, from The Hollywood Reporter:
According to Scientology’s official website, the ship is the home of the Flag Ship Service Organisation (FSSO), a “religious retreat ministering the most advanced level of spiritual counseling in the Scientology religion.”
The ship was purchased in 1986 when it was called Boheme and rechristened Freewinds in 1988, intended as a place for Scientologists to achieve the highest levels of auditing and access Operating Level Eight, the most enlightened state of Scientology.
Cool. This too:
It drew unwelcome attention when video leaked of a surprise 42nd birthday party held in 2004 on board the ship for Tom Cruise, the church’s most famous adherent.
In the video, Cruise is serenaded by singer Stacy Francis with “Old Time Rock and Roll,” the tune made famous by his movie Risky Business, while a montage of clips was projected behind her. Scientology leader David Miscavige is seen cheering them on.
But two former Scientologists later came forward to say they were held against their will in the depths of the ship and were forced to do hard labour as Cruise and company celebrated above.
St. Lucian authorities say they don’t have any power to keep the ship from leaving port, but they have thus far not allowed anyone to leave the ship. For the time being, the ship is scheduled to leave St. Lucia near midnight on Thursday, according to official record.
With almost 300 people onboard, a cruise ship is tight quarters and it’s difficult to keep anyone from coming into contact with anyone else. Anyone who is not vaccinated for the disease may be vulnerable to catching it.
More than 700 cases of measles have been reported in the United States already this year, more than any year since 1994. The disease was considered statistically eradicated in the 2000s, but has recently experienced a resurgence, particularly among closely knit communities which oppose immunization.
The Church of Scientology has not officially published a stance on vaccines, and does not prevent followers from following doctors advice or taking medicine. This particular case does not seem to be religiously motivated, it’s just a little funny, though.
Vaccinate yourself and your children, you jokers.