Four Royal Caribbean passengers have been rushed to a hospital for coronavirus testing after the cruise ship carrying more than two dozen Chinese nationals held in isolation docked in New York Harbor.
The Anthem Of The Seas docked in Bayonne, New Jersey around 6am on Friday morning, after steaming from the Bahamas with 27 Chinese nationals held in ‘isolation’ in one of the ship’s restaurants.
Four of the Chinese passengers, who had traveled to the cruise directly from China, were rushed off the ship for testing for coronavirus. At least one was carried on a stretcher by medics who were not wearing masks or other protective garments, aside from gloves.
The four passengers were taken to University Hospital in Newark, which has negative-pressure isolation rooms, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis told WNBC-TV.
One of those four passengers displayed a fever on board the ship, but the fever went away when the person was given Tylenol, the mayor said. The other passengers had no symptoms.
The other 23 Chinese nationals, who had not boarded the cruise directly from China, were interviewed and screened by CDC and health officials.
‘I was advised CDC considers this ‘Below Low Risk’ situation,’ Mayor Davis said in a tweet, adding that health authorities had released the thousands of other non-Chinese passengers without any other action needed.
The 23 Chinese nationals who were not hospitalized will next be escorted to Newark Liberty International Airport for a flight back to China.
The U.S. currently bans any non-citizens from entering the country if they have traveled in mainland China in the proceeding two weeks.
None of the passengers on the ship were from the Wuhan region, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, or had traveled there recently, the mayor said he was told.
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey and Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn have been both designated as emergency camps to quarantine potential patients in the event an outbreak occurs in the U.S.
Meanwhile, thousands of other passengers were seen disembarking the cruise ship later on Friday.
The ship has a passenger capacity of 4,180 but it’s unclear how many were on board during the scare.
The Anthem Of The Seas had been scheduled to depart Bayonne on another cruise at 3pm on Friday.
It was unclear whether that timetable was affected by the health scare, and a representative from Royal Caribbean did not immediately respond to an inquiry from DailyMail.com.
There are 31,481 cases across the world so far and 638 reported deaths, almost entirely in China. There are 12 confirmed cases in the US but none in the New York area.
On Wednesday the 12th confirmed U.S. case of the virus was confirmed in Wisconsin, health officials said.
Coronavirus symptoms include fever, coughing and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Royal Caribbean said in a statement: ‘We are closely monitoring developments regarding coronavirus and have rigorous medical protocols in place on board our ships.
‘(We) are participating in elevated levels of guest screening (to combat the spread of the virus).
‘We continue to work in close consultation with the CDC, the WHO, and local health authorities to align with their guidance and ensure the health and well being of our guests and crew.’
The vessel set off from Bayonne, New Jersey, on January 27 for a 12-day cruise taking in Puerto Rico, the Dutch Antilles, Antigua, St Lucia and St Kitts Island, before returning to New York.
The developments in New Jersey come as Japan confirms 41 new cases of the virus on the quarantined Diamond Princess, adding to 20 escorted off the ship earlier. The nearly 3,700 passengers and crew still on board remain under 14-day quarantines.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said foreign passengers on another ship, Holland America’s Westerdam, won’t be allowed into Japan. He said suspected virus patients were on board, but the Seattle-based operator denied anyone had virus.
The ship with more than 2,000 people was currently near Ishigaki, one of Okinawa’s outer islands, and was seeking another port, said Overseas Travel Agency official Mie Matsubara.
‘Everyone is starting to reject the ship and we are getting desperate,’ she said. ‘We hope we can go somewhere so that passengers can land.’
At least four other cruise ships, two foreign and two Japanese-operated, are headed to Japan by the end of the month, Transport Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said, urging port authorities around the country to turn them away.
Rebecca Frasure is one of the US citizens quarantined aboard the ship alongside her husband. She was shocked when a doctor on board the ship knocked on her door to inform her that her throat swab had tested positive for the virus, as she had no symptoms other than a cough.
In a Skype interview with CNN, Rebecca said: ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen an hour from now, tomorrow. For all we know, we could stay quarantined on the ship for a month.’
Another American couple on the Diamond Princess, novelist Gay Courter and her husband Philip, are in their 70s. While they are among the passengers that have access to a balcony, they have expressed concerns they are stuck in an unsafe environment with people breathing air which is circulated throughout the whole ship.
Courter said: ‘We’re in a contaminated prison, possibly…
‘This is not a safe environment and we don’t think anybody, let alone the Japanese government, wants to be responsible for making a bad decision about quarantining us in an unsafe place.’
Husband Philip posted a picture of the view from their balcony showing ambulances being loaded with passengers and crew sick with the coronavirus.
‘We go to sea tomorrow to produce needed water and hope that the quarantine is successful in preventing more infections,’ he said.
‘We likely won’t hear news about that until tomorrow night. If there are no infections, we may have an end to the confinement on the 19th. Sure hope the microscopic virus organisms aren’t circulating in the ship’s air system.’
The number of infected people on board the ship tripled from 20 to 61 last night after another 41 people tested positive for the deadly virus.
There are eight Americans among the 41 newly diagnosed passengers, along with 21 Japanese nationals, five Canadians, five Australians, a Briton and an Argentine.
The eight new US cases bring the number of infected Americans aboard the ship to 11.