Four passengers have died on a Holland America cruise ship carrying several people with confirmed COVID-19 cases and dozens with symptoms of illness.
The four people who died were “older,” according to a Friday statement from the cruise company, which is owned by Carnival. The company said it could not confirm whether the deaths were caused by COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, due to medical privacy regulations.
At least two people on the ship have tested positive for coronavirus so far, and 53 passengers and 85 crew have reported “influenza-like” illness symptoms, per the cruise company. The company did not confirm how many of the ship’s 1,243 guests and 586 crew had been tested. There are four doctors and four nurses on the ship, currently off the coast of Panama.
While Holland America halted its global cruise operations on March 13, amid the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic and several outbreaks on other cruise ships, this particular ship was already mid-travel, having departed March 7. All guests have stayed on the ship since the operations halt. Passengers on the ship have been told to self-isolate in their rooms since March 22, after a “number” of guests displayed flulike symptoms.
As of yesterday, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, the Zaandam ship has been transferring healthy guests to another ship, the Rotterdam — keeping those who are ill and the crew onboard. Additional medical supplies and staff were also brought onboard. They are still finalizing a disembarkation plan for both ships, aiming to get to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the coming days.
This follows two other Carnival cruise ships with coronavirus cases in recent weeks: The Grand Princess cruise ship, on which earlier this month more than 20 passengers tested positive for COVID-19, and which docked and unloaded in Oakland, California; and the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was the site of a COVID-19 outbreak off the coast of Japan last month, in which hundreds of passengers had to be quarantined for weeks.
Major cruise companies halted their operations earlier this month following several outbreaks and as coronavirus cases ballooned worldwide.
Earlier this month, the CDC and the State Department recommended that Americans avoid cruise ships at the moment, particularly older adults and those with underlying health conditions.
There were nearly half a million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide and over 20,000 deaths, per the World Health Organization on Thursday. The United States now has the most cases of any country, with over 94,000 cases as of Friday, per a Johns Hopkins analysis.
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