Passenger Never Exhibited Signs of Infection - Belizeans got a bit of a scare last night after word got out that a passenger on board the Carnival Magic cruise ship docked outside of Belize City on Thursday, October 16, 2014, was showing symptoms similar to that of the Ebola virus. The Government of Belize was quick to send out a press release indicating that the US government made them aware of the situation a hand but that the passenger was considered of very low risk for Ebola.
The passenger had voluntarily entered quarantine on board the ship and remains free of any fever or other symptoms of illness. It was later learned that the passenger in quarantine on board the cruise ship was a Dallas health care worker who handled specimens from an Ebola-infected patient, but had not had direct contact with the patient Thomas Eric Duncan who was the first to die from Ebola in the United States.
Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize (GOB) decided not to facilitate a US request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Phillip Goldson International Airport.
“The GOB reassures the public that the passenger never set foot in Belize and while we remain in close contact with US officials we have maintained the position that when even the smallest doubt remains, we will ensure the health and safety of the Belizean people.” – stated the GOB Press Release.
"If there was any way that Belize could have safely accommodated the requests of the US to isolate the two cruise ship passengers, we would have done so," commented Belize Prime Minster, Hon. Dean Barrow at a press conference.
Carnival Cruise Line released a statement acknowledging the situation, stating that the hospital employee is deemed to be "very low risk" to contract the deadly virus. "We are in close contact with the CDC and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board," Carnival said in a statement.
The Carnival Magic is on a seven-night cruise to the Western Caribbean that began October 12 in Galveston, Texas. The ship called at the island of Roatan, Honduras on Wednesday, October 15 and Belize City, Belize on Thursday, October 16. It's scheduled to visit Cozumel, Mexico today Friday, October 17 and return to Galveston on Sunday morning.
U.S. State Department released the statement below on the employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital:
“As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s detailed contact trace investigation conducted in response to the first Ebola case in Dallas, it was discovered that an employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital had departed the United States via a commercial cruise ship on October 12 from Galveston, Texas. The employee did not have direct contact with the since deceased Ebola patient, but may have had contact with clinical specimens collected from him. The individual was out of the country before being notified of CDC’s updated requirements for active monitoring. At the time the hospital employee left the country, CDC was requiring only self-monitoring.
The employee has been self-monitoring, including daily temperature checks, since October 6, and has not had a fever or demonstrated any symptoms of illness. It has been 19 days since the passenger may have processed the since deceased patient’s fluid samples. The cruise line has actively supported CDC’s efforts to speak with the individual, whom the cruise ship’s medical doctor has monitored and confirmed was in good health. Following this examination, the hospital employee and traveling partner have voluntarily remained isolated in a cabin. We are working with the cruise line to safely bring them back to the United States out of an abundance of caution.” – End of Release
Carnival Cruise Lines also send out a press release as follow:
“Late afternoon on Wednesday, October 15, we were made aware by the U.S. CDC of a guest sailing this week on board Carnival Magic who is a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. At no point in time has the individual exhibited any symptoms or signs of infection and it has been 19 days since she was in the lab with the testing samples. She is deemed by CDC to be very low risk.
At this time, the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew. It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution. We are in close contact with the CDC and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board.
None of Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships visit the region where Ebola cases are originating nor do our ships call in any countries with Level 3 CDC Travel Heath Notices. Any passengers or crew who have visited or traveled through Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea within 21 days of a cruise departure date will be denied boarding. Additionally, all guests sailing with us must answer a series of health screening questions during embarkation and, if deemed necessary, will be asked to submit to further medical screening prior to being allowed to board. All cruise lines continue to monitor the situation closely, along with our colleagues in the rest of the travel industry. The cruise industry is in close, frequent contact with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for updates and guidance.
Carnival Magic is based year-round in Galveston, TX and operates seven-day cruises to the Caribbean. The ship departed Galveston on Sunday, Oct. 12 and will return on Sunday, Oct. 19.” – End of Release