A Norwegian Cruise Line ship with at least 17 passengers and crew members infected with COVID-19 docked Sunday in New Orleans, where health officials said they were trying to disembark people without worsening the spread of the coronavirus illness, the AP reports. Local news outlets in New Orleans confirmed the Norwegian Breakaway had arrived in the city. The ship departed New Orleans on Nov. 28. The Louisiana Department of Health said in a late Saturday news release that over the past week, the ship made stops in Belize, Honduras, and Mexico. Norwegian Cruise Line issued a statement that confirmed a “handful of COVID-19 cases among guests and crew.” The company said all of the identified cases are asymptomatic. At least one case, detected in a crew member, is the omicron variant, Fox 8 reports.
Norwegian said it requires all passengers and crew members to have been vaccinated against the coronavirus prior to departure. “We are testing all individuals on Norwegian Breakaway prior to disembarkation, as well as providing post-exposure and quarantine public health guidance by the CDC,” the company's statement said. “Any guests who have tested positive for COVID-19 will travel by personal vehicle to their personal residence or self-isolate in accommodations provided by the company.” More than 3,200 people were on board the ship, officials said. Ten cases were detected via testing on board the ship Saturday, then seven additional cases were reported after passengers disembarked Sunday, WWL-TV reports.
The cruise line also gave passengers take-home rapid tests as they left the ship, according to WVUE-TV in New Orleans. Some disembarking passengers told WVUE that they were notified about the positive cases on the ship, while others said they had no idea about the outbreak until being asked about it by a reporter. The company said no changes to scheduled future sailings on the Norwegian Breakaway are currently planned, and the ship was scheduled to depart again Sunday evening.
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