SEATTLE — Federal health officials are investigating reports of a coronavirus outbreak aboard a cruise ship, multiple news outlets are reporting.
According to CNN, the incident occurred on the Carnival Spirit, which left Miami in mid-April before docking in Seattle last week. The ship, which left for Alaska on Tuesday, can carry 2,124 guests, the Carnival Cruise Lines website says.
Although neither Carnival nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publicly revealed how many people on the ship tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC website said early Monday that the agency “has started an investigation and (the) ship remains under observation.” The ship also was assigned an orange color status, meaning that at least 0.3% of those on board tested positive for the virus, CNN reported.
In a statement to Seattle’s KIRO-TV last week, Carnival management acknowledged “a number of COVID cases” during the ship’s voyage.
“There were no serious health issues, but we did have guests show minor symptoms or test positive,” the statement read, according to the TV station. “We encourage our guests to purchase travel insurance, and we believe that close to half the guests purchased travel insurance for unexpected travel disruptions related to COVID. Normally, guests are responsible for quarantine costs, but because so many of our guests were far from home, we made the hotel arrangements and have offered to share the cost of their lodging while they remain in Seattle to complete their five-day quarantine.”
The CDC considers the ship “highly vaccinated,” which means at least 90% of passengers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Passenger Darren Siefertson, of Las Vegas, claimed in an interview with KIRO-TV that the “ship was so unprepared and so mismanaged” that many guests “suffered greatly.” Another passenger, Karin Ross, alleged that the ship’s medical center told her it was unnecessary for her to get tested for COVID-19 after her roommate tested positive, KIRO-TV reported.
Carnival did not address those allegations specifically in its statement to KIRO-TV, according to the TV station.
The news came as the rate of new COVID-19 cases appeared to be rising domestically and declining globally, according to The New York Times. As of Sunday, the U.S. was averaging 70,410 new cases per day, up 50% from two weeks earlier, the newspaper reported. Meanwhile, the worldwide average was 500,000 new cases per day, down 29% from 14 days earlier.
As for fatalities, the U.S. averaged 365 deaths per day – an increase of 1% from two weeks earlier, the newspaper reported. The global average hovered at 2,181 daily deaths, down 22% from 14 days earlier.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday that 66.3% of the U.S. population is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19. About 46% of fully vaccinated residents have received a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the agency said.
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