10 COVID cases detected on cruise ship carrying thousands

MIAMI (AFP) – Ten COVID-19 cases have been detected among crew members and passengers on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship returning to New Orleans yesterday with thousands on board, a United States (US) health authority said.

“The Norwegian Breakaway departed from New Orleans on November 28 and stopped in Belize, Honduras and Mexico on its voyage,” the Louisiana Department of Health tweeted on Saturday.

“There are more than 3,200 individuals onboard.”

The Health Department said every individual aboard would be tested for COVID prior to disembarking.

“Those who test positive for COVID-19 will either travel by personal vehicle directly to their personal residence or self-isolate according to current US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines in accommodations provided by NCL,” the Health Department tweeted.

The global cruise industry has taken a severe hit during the pandemic.

File photo shows people looking at Norwegian Breakaway on the Hudson River in New York. PHOTO: AP

In February 2020, when little was known about the new coronavirus, a cruise ship named ‘Diamond Princess’ was quarantined off Japan.

More than 700 people on board tested positive for COVID-19 and 13 died, with Japanese authorities heavily criticised for insisting passengers and crew stay on the boat, where the virus continued to spread.

Cruise operations in the US were suspended in March 2020 when the CDC issued a “no sail order” to prevent the spread of COVID.

Some cruise ships resumed operations in Europe and elsewhere last year, but the ban remained in place in the US.

After a year of crippling losses, cruise industry giants resumed trips from the US in May this year when the CDC gave the green light to allow trips with passengers and crew who are vaccinated.

Canada lifted its ban on cruise ships in its waters last month.