BAYONNE, N.J. — After a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that docked here early Friday morning had to have a group of passengers screened for coronavirus, the cruise ship company banned all Chinese nationals, and anyone coming into close contact with them, banned.
The measure provoked some criticism, but Royal Caribbean Calle the measures necessary, until further notice.
The group of 27 people, who’d been in China within the last two weeks, were tested by medical staff from the Centers for Disease Control immediately after the vessel pulled into port just after 6 a.m.
PIX11 was on the scene as several people were seen taken out in stretchers while others walked out of the ship wearing masks.
Jimmy Davis, the mayor of Bayonne, addressed the situation Friday morning on Twitter, writing: "I have been briefed on the RC cruise ship arriving this morning. I am certain that the NJ DoH, CDC and PA NY/NJ are prepared and equipped to address any concerns this morning."
PIX11 reached out to Royal Caribbean and the company provided this statement:
"Like airlines, we are participating in elevated levels of guest screening to check the spread of coronavirus. We are closely monitoring developments regarding coronavirus and have rigorous medical protocols in place onboard our ships. 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."
Royal Caribbean also released a statement on their website regarding itinerary updates.
Any guest or crewmember traveling to, from or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau less than 15 days prior to their sailing will be unable to board any Royal Caribbean ships.
In addition, health screening requirements have been tightened and the following guests will need to undergo extra screening:
- Anyone that has been in contact with individuals that have traveled from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the last 15 days.
- Anyone that holds a Chinese, Hong Kong, or Macau passport – regardless of when they were there last.
- Anyone that feels unwell or demonstrates flu-like symptoms.
- On Friday afternoon, two lawmakers in Queens with large Chinese constituents, Ron Kim and Andrew Hevesi, warned against discrimination against Chinese and Chinese-Americans, based only on their place of origin.
The changes come as a Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan has been quarantined after at least 61 people on board tested positive for the new virus, including some Americans.
Gloved and masked health workers in Japan have led people infected with a new virus off the ship, while the rest of the 3,700 people on board face a two-week quarantine in their cabins.
In Hong Kong, more than 3,600 people on another cruise ship are to be screened after it was banned by Taiwan amid growing worry about the spread of an outbreak.
The little-understood new virus has killed over 630 people in mainland China, including a doctor who got in trouble with authorities in the communist country for sounding an early warning about the disease threat.