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Holland America's cruise ship, the Zaandam, enters the Panama City bay on March 27.
Holland America’s cruise ship, the Zaandam, enters the Panama City bay on March 27. Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

A cruise ship with two confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and more than 130 people on board with “flu-like symptoms” will be allowed to pass through the Panama Canal, authorities said Saturday.

Four guests have already died on board the Zaandam. Their cause of death has not been confirmed.

On Friday, Panama Canal officials said any ships with passengers or crew diagnosed with the virus would not be allowed through.

But the Panama Ministry of Health has made an exception for the Zaandam. “The Panama Canal supports all the efforts that are being made to make it easier for the passengers and crew of the Zaandam cruiser to reunite with their families,” the Panama Canal authorities said in a statement.

The Zaandam departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was originally scheduled to sail to Chile but has been denied access at various ports.



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