Coronavirus cases on Diamond Princess cruise ship rise to 63, including 12 from US

2020-02-08 17:52:51

Two more passengers, including another American, have fallen ill on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that is quarantined off the coast of Japan, bringing the ship’s total to 63 passengers who have been diagnosed with coronavirus. 

The cruise ship is one of several affected by the deadly coronavirus outbreak, which has prompted cruise lines to issue quarantines and perform testings and screenings. Meanwhile, some ports are denying cruise ships entry for fear of the virus spreading. 

The coronavirus, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, has spread across the globe with more than 34,963 confirmed cases and 725 deaths as of Saturday evening. The majority of the cases are in mainland China. Common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

The first American has died in China, the U.S. embassy in Beijing reported Saturday morning.

Saturday evening, Princess Cruises said 63 people had been diagnosed with coronavirus on board the cruise line’s Diamond Princess off the coast of Yokohoma, Japan. Twelve of those passengers are Americans, the cruise line said. The ship is under quarantine until Feb. 19. 

Currently, the ship is out to sea for a 24-hour period to produce fresh water. 

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Holland America ship gets preliminary approval for new disembarkation port

Meanwhile, Holland America’s MS Westerdam cruise ship is one step closer to disembarkation this week.

“We can confirm that we have received preliminary approval for a port of disembarkation next week,” the cruise line confirmed in a statement provided by Erik Elvejord, its director of public relations, though it did not name the location. 

However, before we receive final confirmation, we are required to do a complete passport review of all guests and crew in order to ensure that no one has traveled in mainland China in the past 14 days,” it continued. “We know that our guests are anxious for a port confirmation, as are we.”

The Westerdam, which has 1,455 guests and 802 crew members, made a stop in Hong Kong last week. It was subsequently was denied entry to ports in Guam, the Philippines and Japan. 

Holland America said the ship was sailing on a southwesterly course in the South China Sea. According to the ship-tracking website, it is currently off the west coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines as of Saturday evening.

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The ship has enough fuel to last until the end of the voyage, which was supposed to end Feb. 15

There are no known cases of coronavirus on board despite reports to the contrary, the cruise line said, and the MS Westerdam is not in quarantine. 

“We have no reason to believe there are cases of coronavirus on board,” Elvejord said in an email Friday morning.

World Dream passengers, crew to remain onboard until at least Tuesday

Dream Cruises’ World Dream was also under quarantine Saturday near Hong Kong and had completed testing on 35 crew members and nine passengers for coronavirus — all of which came back negative, Dream Cruises said in a statement Saturday. 

Health officials later requested testing for the remaining crew members but results will not be available until at least Tuesday. All crew and passengers will remain onboard until those results come back.

In the meantime, Dream Cruises has taken some measures to make passengers more comfortable, including relocating some from inside cabins or sea view cabins to suites with balconies to provide better air flow. 

Royal Caribbean ship cleared to depart Bayonne, New Jersey

Another ship impacted by the coronavirus is Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, which is docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, where four passengers were sent to a hospital to be tested Friday. The cruise line said they did not show symptoms of coronavirus and the ship had been cleared to depart.

However, the ship’s departure has been delayed twice as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts additional tests. The ship is expected to depart Monday afternoon and has been changed from a Bahamas cruise to a Bermuda cruise, in light of the delayed departure.

Passengers who do not want to reembark on the cruise will receive a refund from Royal Caribbean, the cruise line said. Passengers choosing to embark on the cruise will receive a 50% refund and a 50% future cruise credit, Royal Caribbean announced Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Costa Smeralda, one of Costa Cruises’ ships, had a coronavirus scare at the end of January that locked down the ship for almost a day in Civitavecchia, Italy. The scare turned out to be a case of the flu.

Cruise industry bolstering coronavirus screening, some ships ban China, Hong Kong passport holders

Norwegian and Royal Caribbean International cruise lines announced Friday they would bar passengers holding passports from China, Hong Kong or Macau.

Royal Caribbean listed new health screening protocols on its website Friday, noting “these steps are intentionally conservative, and we apologize that they will inconvenience some of our guests.”

This protocols included, “all holders of China, Hong Kong and Macau passports, regardless of residency.”

Norwegian Cruise Lines updated its coronavirus procedure Friday, also stating that “any guest that holds a Chinese, Hong Kong, or Macau passport, will be unable to board any of our ships, regardless of residency.” This ban extended to crew members as well.

Cruise Lines International Association, an industry group representing most of the ocean-going cruise ships around the globe, said Friday its members would restrict boarding access to anyone who may have come in contact with coronavirus.

Member ships will deny boarding to anyone who has been in close contact with or helped to care for someone suspected or diagnosed with coronavirus. Those who are being monitored for potential exposure to the virus are also to be turned away.

Ships are also to deny boarding to all who have traveled from, visited or been through airports in China, the epicenter of the outbreak, within a two-week period prior to embarkation. That includes Hong Kong and Macao in addition to mainland China.

CLIA cruise member ships are to conduct screening before boarding. Enhanced screening and medical support are to be provided by ships as needed to anyone with coronavirus-like symptoms.

Crew members and passengers alike are subject to these precautionary measures.

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Contributing: Jayme Deerwester, Grace Hauck, USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus cruise ships: 63 people ill on Diamond Princess in Japan

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