The passengers in question had a history of having recently travelled to China, one official with the Centre for Disease Control told CNN. The outbreak of the mysterious illness was believed to have originated in a market in Wuhan, China.
The unidentified source said CDC and local health officials boarded the ship “to do an assessment in port for coronavirus” after learning of the passengers’ travel history to China.
It was not immediately clear whether the passengers were experiencing symptoms associated with coronavirus, which includes respiratory tract illnesses like pneumonia or bronchitis, as well as fever, coughing and shortness of breath.
Officials were then seen boarding the Anthem of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in a cruise port in Bayonne, New Jersey.
Tracie Stahan, local reporter for WNBC-TV, tweeted video showing the officials carrying out apparent passengers in a stretcher.
“Passengers aboard the Anthem of the Seas are being loaded into ambulances in Bayonne for precautionary #Coronavirus screenings”, the journalist wrote.
The mayor for the local city said in a statement that he had been briefed on the cruise ship’s arrival to the port, adding that he was “certain” local and CDC officials were “prepared and equipped to address any concerns”.
Royal Caribbean also said it was “closely monitoring developments regarding coronavirus” and features “rigorous medical protocols” aboard its ships in a statement to CNN.
The company added: “We continue to work in close consultation with the CDC, the WHO, and local health authorities to align with their guidance and ensure the health and wellbeing of our guests and crew.”
The latest development comes as the US has confirmed at least 12 cases of the coronavirus nationwide. Wuhan coronavirus has killed at least 638 people, with most of those deaths occurring in China.
Airports and national transit hubs across the country have increased precautionary health screenings for travellers with a history of having travelled to China, as multiple victims of the disease reported recent travel to the country before exhibiting symptoms of the virus.
Meanwhile, 11 US passengers on a quarantined cruise ship near Japan have reportedly been diagnosed with coronavirus, bringing the total number of infected passengers on the vessel to 41.
One of those passengers told NBC News while waiting to be transported to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus: “Being alone in the hospital in a foreign country where people don’t speak my language that’s definitely a concern.”
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