Cruise ship with at least 10 COVID-19 infections arrives in New Orleans

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New Orleans – a Norwegian Cruise Line ship with at least 10 passengers and crew members infected with COVID-19 docked in New Orleans on Sunday, where health officials said they were trying to unload people without worsening the spread of the coronavirus disease.

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Local news outlets in New Orleans confirmed that the Norwegian breakaway had hit the city. The ship departed New Orleans on 28 November. The Louisiana Department of Health said in a news release late Saturday that over the past week, the ship made stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico.

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Norwegian Cruise Line NCLH,
-4.54%
issued a statement that confirmed “a handful of COVID-19 cases among guests and crew”. The company said that all the identified cases involved people without symptoms.

Norwegian said all passengers and crew members are required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus before departure.

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“We are testing all individuals on the Norwegian breakaway prior to disembarkation, as well as providing post-exposure and quarantine public health guidance by the (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” the company statement said. “Any guest who has tested positive for COVID-19 shall travel by private vehicle to their private residence or self-isolate in the accommodation provided by the company.”

The state health department – which is working with the cruise line and state and local officials to contain the outbreak – said at least 10 people on the ship tested positive for COVID-19. Officials said more than 3,200 people were on board the ship.

some disembarking passengers WVUE-TV . told in New Orleans that they were informed of positive cases on the ship, while others said they had no idea about the outbreak until asked about it by a reporter.

“We didn’t hear about it until we heard you talking a second ago,” said Don Cannoll, a North Carolina passenger. “It would have been nice to know. We might have taken a few more precautions.”

The passengers said they were tested for COVID-19 exposure on Saturday before disembarking on Sunday. According to WVUE, the cruise line also offered rapid at-home tests to passengers as soon as they left the ship.

The company said no changes had been made to future sailings scheduled on the Norwegian breakaway, and the ship was due to depart again on Sunday evening.

Cruise ships were an early source of the outbreak at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year as some ships were rejected at ports and passengers were forced into quarantine. The CDC issued a no-sell order in March 2020, signaling a standstill that ended last June as cruise ships began to leave US ports with new health and safety requirements.

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