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A cruise ship with 77 sick people on board is hoping to dock in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on March 30.
The Holland America Line Zaandam ship, owned by Carnival Corporation, originally left Buenos Aires, Argentina on March 7 with 1,243 passengers and 586 crew on board.
The cruise was scheduled to end in Chile on March 21, but Chile did not allow anyone on board to disembark. The ship left Chile on March 21, and is trying to secure transit through the Panama Canal to be able to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on March 30, the company said in a statement.
On Sunday, Holland America Line said 42 people, including 29 crew members, had reported flu-like symptoms. On Tuesday, the company said 77 people have reported flu-like symptoms, including 47 crew members.
There is no COVID-19 testing available on board. All ports along the ship’s route to Florida are closed to cruise ships.
The company is deploying another Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, to carry COVID-19 test kits to the Zaandam when it gets to the coast of Panama on March 26, the company said.
All passengers and non-essential crew members are directed to stay in their cabins, and everyone who is ill is being isolated, the company said.
Broward County commissioners held a special session Tuesday morning to discuss what to do with the ship. Some opposed allowing the ship to dock because it did not originate in Florida. Others said the ship should be allowed to dock as a humanitarian obligation.
In the end the commission decided to wait to make a call.
“We’re not ready to make a decision at this time,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dale Holness. “We don’t have any CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] confirmation about what is going on with that ship.”
Port Everglades, the Florida Department of Health, and the CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how the ship’s arrival would be handled.
Carnival Corporation agreed to temporarily stop its cruise operations on March 13 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, dozens of cruise ships were underway. Citing the increased risk of COVID-19 infection on cruise ships, many countries have turned ships away.
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