A cruise ship was turned away from docking in the Dominican Republic Friday over concerns that passengers aboard were infected with coronavirus, officials said.
According to a statement from the Public Health Ministry of the Dominican Republic, per The New York Times, the Braemar vessel was carrying eight passengers who showed symptoms including fever, coughing and difficulty breathing — all possible signs of COVID-19.
The captain of the ship reported the sick passengers to be two U.S. citizens, two British citizens, and four Filipinos.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, the parent company of the ship, shared in a statement that there were “a small number of influenza-like cases on board,” however, the “medical team has now advised that they are all feeling better.”
“No guests or crew are, or have been, displaying symptoms that are considered to be consistent with those of coronavirus,” the company added, calling the ship’s refusal of entry to be an “overreaction by the Dominican Republic.”
As of Friday, the ship — which was carrying 1,128 passengers and 384 crew members — was “awaiting advice on the next steps” and “liaising with a number of airlines to secure onward travel for guests,” the Times reported.
The Braemar was originally scheduled to depart on a new cruise Thursday night after picking up another group of passengers.
According to the Times, this incident in the Dominican Republican occurred as another ship in Cozumel was denied entry from ports in Grand Cayman and Jamaica.
Earlier this week, health officials urged Americans to start preparing for the likelihood that coronavirus will spread in the U.S. as the number of cases continue to rise nationally and in countries outside of China.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control said that a bigger outbreak in the U.S. is imminent.
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. “We are asking the American public to prepare in the expectation that this could be bad.”
Over the weekend, cases of coronavirus soared in Italy (283 cases and seven deaths), South Korea (977 cases and 10 deaths) and Iran (95 cases and 16 deaths). Austria and Croatia also said they’ve seen their first cases.
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