Two cruise ships with possible coronavirus infections held off Florida coast
04/01/2020 / By Franz Walker / Comments
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Two cruise ships with possible coronavirus infections held off Florida coast

Two cruise ships with people exhibiting influenza-like symptoms are being held off the Florida coast. Both vessels, the Costa Favolosa and Costa Magica, have been permitted by port and health officials to anchor and have sent boats to shore.

Roger Frizzell, a spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Line, which owns Costa Cruises, stated that some crew members aboard the two ships had developed flu-like symptoms, which are similar to those of the coronavirus. Seven crew members from the Favolosa and six from the Magica are now scheduled to leave the ships. All of them will be taken to a local hospital for testing, observation and treatment.

Despite the crew members being disembarked, the ships are still technically not in port. The vessels have been ordered by the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Sector Miami, to remain at least three miles offshore.

“At this point, the ships do not have official clearance for entry into the Port of Miami,” Frizzell said.

Around 30 people with flu-like symptoms are on the ships

According to Frizzell, around 30 people who reported flu-like symptoms were on the ships as of Thursday night. The PortMiami Unified Command is now working to evacuate these people off the boats to be able to test them and give them critical care if necessary. This organization is made up of representatives from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, Miami-Dade Police Department, Port of Miami (PortMiami), the Florida Department of Health and Costa Cruises.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is facilitating medical evacuations Thursday after requests were made by Costa Magica and Costa Favolosa for life-critical care ashore for multiple crew members presenting with respiratory symptoms consistent with pneumonia and bronchitis,” the PortMiami Unified Command stated in a press release posted to the Miami Dade County website. (Related: Miami cruise ship turned away over coronavirus fears, crew member “unwell.”)

Personnel from Miami Dade Fire Rescue will be facilitating the transport of the crew members who need to be medically disembarked to local hospitals once they arrive at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach.

Frizzell stated that, before the efforts in Miami, both ships had been unable to find a Caribbean port that would allow them to dock and safely send it crew members to disembark.

However, despite the efforts to disembark the sick crew, PortMiami spokesperson Andria Muniz-Amador stated that both ships were not scheduled to dock there.

“At this time I can confirm Costa Magica and Favolosa are not scheduled to dock at PortMiami and currently offshore,” confirmed Muniz Amador.

The city of Miami itself is enforcing measures to slow the spread of the virus. On Tuesday, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has tested positive for the coronavirus himself, issued a “shelter in place” order.

“Effective today, all non-essential travel within the City will be prohibited to fight the spread of COVID-19. The sooner we take action, the sooner we can return to normalcy,” Suarez wrote in a tweet.

As of Thursday morning, the state of Florida has already seen nearly 2,000 cases of the coronavirus, resulting in the deaths of 23 people.

Costa Cruises extends suspension of operations

With two of its ships on quarantine off the coast of Florida, Costa Cruises has now extended its suspension of operations until April 30. Other cruise lines, however, have suspended their operations until May 11.

“Due to the protracted emergency situation for the global pandemic of COVID-19 and the further introduction of containment measures — such as port closures and restrictions on the movement of people — which do not actually allow us to operate, Costa Cruises has decided to extend the voluntary suspension of its cruises until April 30, 2020,” the cruise line said in a statement provided by spokesperson Buck Banks.

As part of this, the company stated that all cruises that are still underway are in the process of ending their voyages and disembarking passengers. Costa Cruises North America is also informing all passengers and travel agents in the region that they will be receiving a future credit voucher for 150 percent of the fare paid. the latest on the coronavirus outbreak.

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