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Cruise ship with 42 sick passengers and crew headed to Florida



A Holland America cruise ship carrying at least 42 people with flu-like symptoms is headed to Florida, but it’s unclear if it will be permitted to dock. 

The ship, called the Zaandam, is scheduled to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on Monday, according to a Facebook update from the cruise line. The cruise line said “plans are still being finalized.”

At least 13 guests and 29 crew members reported flu-like symptoms. The ship does not have any COVID-19 tests on board. Another Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, plans to meet the Zaandam off the coast of Panama on Thursday to transfer supplies, staff and coronavirus test kits.

In an emergency meeting Tuesday, some members of the Broward County Commission in Florida said the ship’s docking should be blocked to avoid a potential spreading of the disease. The commission decided to defer action and seek guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NPR reported

The Zaandam left Argentina on March 7. Holland America later suspended all cruise line operations with the goal of having passengers disembark its ships as soon as possible. Holland America said Zaandam has permission to disembark at Punta Arenas, Chile, but “we were not permitted to do so.”

The cruise line said no one has left the ship since March 14 when it was in Chile. Those who are sick have been isolated, and their close contacts have been quarantined. All passengers have been required to stay in their rooms and receive meals by room service. 

Zaandam is the latest of several cruise ships that have had difficulty finding a place to dock. At least nine people have died after being on the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined off the coast of Japan in February. Of the 3,711 people aboard the cruise ship, 712 have contracted the coronavirus.



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