A crew member has been found dead on the Royal Caribbean cruise line’s Anthem of the Seas after four passengers on the ship were tested for coronavirus, but proved to be negative.
Four thousand passengers fled the ship after it docked at the New Jersey port city of Bayonne following reports of Chinese nationals falling ill on board during a Caribbean cruise.
Around two dozen Chinese passengers were isolated on board, but only four were tested and then taken to hospital after thousands of other passengers had left the ship.
News of the male crew member found dead on the Anthem was accompanied by a report authorities did not believe the death was from coronavirus.
But NBC4NY reported they were treating it with “an abundance of caution” as they waited for post mortem results.
“The crew member, a Filipino national, was found in an engine room last weekend,” the publication said, citing two sources.
“His body was kept in a refrigerated compartment until the ship docked in New Jersey.”
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The number of cruise ships with confirmed coronavirus infected passengers currently sailing about or docked, but forbidden to disembark passengers appears to stand at three, with the Holland America liner Westerdam refused a port call at Guam.
The Royal Caribbean company has moved to bar embarkation on any of its ships by holders of passports from China, Hong Kong or Macau.
The stricken luxury liner Diamond Princess is stranded in Yokohama, Japan with 64 coronavirus cases, including at least five Australians and twelve Americans, after Japan’s health ministry confirmed the number had jumped up another three.
Around 276 people of the 3700 on board are infected.
Despite the quarantined ship’s containment from further infecting outsiders, it is housing the biggest known virus cluster outside China and its anxious passengers have no release date.
An image has emerged of a Japanese flag draped over the ship’s side with words meaning “medicine lacking” written on it.
One passenger wrote on Twitter “I keep hearing painful coughs from a foreigner in a nearby room”.
In Hong Kong, 3,600 people are facing a third night confined aboard the World Dream luxury liner, where eight former passengers have tested positive for the virus.
So far, 35 crew members and nine passengers who had earlier reported fever or respiratory symptoms have tested negative for deadly coronavirus, the South China Morning Post reported.
Last week Hong Kong paramedics, dressed head to toe in protective gear, loaded a person completely sealed in plastic into an ambulance parked alongside the World Dream.
Tensions have been rising as on-board entertainment such as film screenings and mahjong games have been cancelled, to reduce passenger-to-passenger contact.
If all 1800 crew test negative for the virus, ship officials hope to be able to disembark everyone off the ship by Tuesday.
But some speculated that untested passengers might be stuck on the ship for longer.
The ship left Hong Kong a week ago for a cruise to Taiwan, but was turned back by Taiwanese authorities.
Holland America’s Westerdam was denied a port call by the American State Department at the US territory of Guam in the western Pacific after it reported suspected virus patients.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said foreign passengers won’t be allowed into Japan.
The ship, with more than 2,000 people, was near Okinawa and was seeking another port.
The coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, China, has spread worldwide with 37,515 confirmed cases and 813 deaths as of Sunday afternoon, Sydney time.
Most cases are in mainland China. Common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.