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Flu Fears To Keep Crew Aboard Mexico Tanker

May 2, 2009 — A tanker visiting St. Croix Sunday from Mexico will stop at Hovensa, and while no members of the crew have been found to be ill, they will not disembark on the island, according to the V.I. Department of Health.
Acting Health Commissioner Julia Sheen Saturday denied that any member of the crew had been found to have the H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, but the decision to have the crew remain on the ship was part of heightened alertness to ensure the safety of the island.
An agreement was reached with medical personnel at Hovensa for the crew to observe "voluntary social distancing" by staying aboard the tanker. Sheen said such measures are a routine part of stepped-up surveillance efforts in light of the increase in confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus across more than a dozen states.
To date, there has been no confirmed cases in the Virgin Islands, Sheen said.
Hovensa, which partnered with the Health Department in 2006 for its Pandemic Flu Summit, continues to work closely with Health officials, Sheen said.
"We thank Hovensa for continuing to work with us and for contacting us about the tanker," she said.
The Health Department meanwhile has scheduled a second press briefing at 3 p.m. Monday at the Charles Harwood Complex to update residents on the H1N1 virus. VITEMA Director Mark Walters and other government officials will also be on hand.
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