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ARGENTINA | 07-05-2020 15:25

Cabin fever: Argentine waitress 'distressed' by cruise ship confinement

Argentine waitress Analia Navarrete has been shut up for almost a month inside a cabin on a luxury liner trapped at Lisbon port, thanks to the coronavirus epidemic. 

For Argentine waitress Analia Navarrete, it has been "distressing." She's been shut up for almost a month inside her cabin on a luxury liner trapped at Lisbon port by the coronavirus epidemic. 

"It's very sad, it's distressing and it's exasperating," said 36-year-old Navarrete in a video call from the MSC Fantasia that has been docked in Lisbon since March 22 with 350 crew members on board. 

When the pandemic took hold, the ship altered its course and its nearly 1,000 passengers disembarked to go home, but the staff, most of whom are non-European, couldn't leave due to the sudden closure of borders across the European Union. 

"Almost everyone left.. but we weren't so lucky," said Navarrete, one of nine Argentines among a crew largely made up of Indian and Pakistani nationals. 

Global efforts to stem the spread of the deadly virus have seen many countries imposing strict travel restrictions, closing airports and borders and plunging international tourism into its worst crisis on record, the World Tourism Organisation said on Thursday.

Airlines have suffered the most since the outbreak began in China in late 2019, but the global cruise industry is also reeling, with vessels refused entry to ports and others locked down after virus cases were confirmed on board. 

'Nothing to do'

Since April 9, the crew of the MSC Fantasia have been confined to their quarters after several crew members tested positive for the virus, Navarette said. 

"We've been shut in our individual rooms, completely isolated. They bring us food and leave it outside the door," she said, the connection repeatedly cutting out due to the weak WiFi signal on board – worsening their isolation. 

"We've got nothing to do, we can't even walk around the boat. The Internet connection is very bad and we have very little communication with our families," she told AFP. 

Doctors on board pass through daily to take their temperatures and carry out virus tests, but although she tested negative, she said she has not been allowed out of her cabin. 

And there's been little help from the Argentine Embassy in Lisbon with whom she's had "little communication" despite sending multiple emails. 

"They tell us there's nothing new, that we have to keep waiting," she said.

"We're healthy. We're here forgotten.. We've been locked in for 30 days. We've been through loads of ups and downs but we are trying not to lose hope." 

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by by Levi Fernandes, AFP

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