Health and Science

Dozens tested for new coronavirus on Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked near New York City

Key Points
  • More than two dozen passengers on a cruise ship docked near New York City have been tested for the new coronavirus, state officials said Friday, and four have been hospitalized.
  • The four hospitalized passengers have a travel history to mainland China, but not Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.
  • At least two of the four family members were removed from the ship on stretchers.
VIDEO2:2602:26
Coronavirus fears come to Port of Bayonne as cruise ship passengers tested

More than two dozen passengers on a cruise ship docked near New York City have been tested for the new coronavirus, state officials said Friday, and four have been hospitalized.

Personnel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boarded the ship to test 27 passengers "who recently traveled from mainland China," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday.

"After being assessed by the CDC, 23 of those passengers were cleared and four individuals are being evaluated at an area hospital," he said.

The ship, Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, is docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, about 15 miles from New York City.

The four hospitalized passengers are a family that was recently in mainland China but not Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, the CDC said in a statement, adding that two were ill when CDC personnel boarded the ship.

At least two passengers were removed from the ship on stretchers, footage of the scene shows.

Royal Caribbean said the passengers had not been in China since Jan. 26, which might put them past the 14-day incubation period. The company said one of the passengers had already tested positive for influenza A.

"We appreciate the CDC's abundance of caution and their partnership," the company said. "None of the four guests showed any clinical signs or symptoms of coronavirus while they were onboard our ship."

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How Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's dealing with coronavirus fears

The company also announced that moving forward, "Any guests holding a Chinese, Hong Kong or Macau passport, regardless of when they were there last, will not be allowed to board our ships."

All Royal Caribbean ships will adopt that policy, the company said, "until further notice."

The ship left Bayonne on Jan. 27, according to its itinerary, and sailed through the Caribbean and Puerto Rico before returning to Bayonne Friday morning.

The ship has been cleared to continue to travel, the company said, but will wait until it has received test results for the suspected cases tomorrow.

"We have also been cleared by authorities to depart on our next cruise as usual," the company said. "However, to reassure concerned guests, we will delay our departure until tomorrow, when we expect to receive conclusive test results from CDC."

As of Friday, more than 31,000 cases of the new coronavirus have been reported in over two dozen countries, resulting in at least 636 deaths, almost exclusively in China.

When reached by CNBC, Royal Caribbean declined to say how many people are aboard the ship.

Shares of Royal Caribbean were down more than 4% at close.

The Anthem of the Seas is just one of several ships caught in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak. Carnival's Princess Cruises has quarantined 3,700 people on one of its ships near Japan after a previous guest, who didn't have any symptoms while aboard the ship, tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, six days after leaving the ship. And almost 2,000 tourists are being held on a cruise ship operated by Genting's Dream Cruises in Hong Kong and being tested for the coronavirus after several crew members reported symptoms associated with the illness.

Cruise Lines International Association, a trade association for cruise operators, said Friday that the cruise industry is "one of the most well-equipped and experienced when it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of those onboard."

The trade group advises operators to deny boarding to people who have traveled to mainland China or who have been in contact with people who exhibit symptoms.

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Princess Cruise guest reveals life inside coronavirus-quarantined ship