Four people screened for the new coronavirus on a cruise ship arriving in New Jersey were rushed to a nearby hospital early on Feb. 7.
The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Anthem of the Seas docked in Bayonne. Twenty-seven passengers were screened, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. Twenty-three were cleared and four were taken to a hospital for evaluation.
All other passengers were allowed off the ship, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the incident “Below Low Risk,” Davis said. He thanked the agency, Customs and Border Protection, and local responders for “their excellent work that was done with an abundance of caution.”
At least one of the people transported from the ship was wheeled off on a stretcher, according to video footage.
Royal Caribbean said that the CDC was going to test samples from the four guests. None of the four showed any symptoms of the virus aboard the ship and none had been in China since Jan. 26.
In an earlier statement, the company said: “Like airlines, we are participating in elevated levels of guest screening to check the spread of coronavirus.”
The cruise ship company said it was monitoring developments regarding the new coronavirus and have implemented “rigorous medical protocols” on its ships.
The company was working with the CDC, the World Health Organization, and local health authorities “to align with their guidance and ensure the health and wellbeing of our guests and crew.”
Anthem of the Seas was scheduled to leave Friday on a new voyage spanning over eight nights but the departure was delayed until Saturday afternoon to give the CDC enough time to test the four people taken to the hospital, Royal Caribbean said. People would receive a prorated refund for the missed day but passengers looking for a removal of standard cancellation penalties were out of luck, the company said on its Twitter account.
Royal Caribbean also announced on Friday that any travelers holding passports from China, Hong Kong, or Macau wouldn’t be allowed to board its ships.
The decision came as Japanese officials said that there are now 61 passengers on a cruise ship near Yokohama with the virus, including some Americans.
No confirmed cases exist in New Jersey but there are 12 patients who have tested positive in the United States, including two in Illinois, one in Wisconsin, and one in Massachusetts.
The New Jersey Department of Health said it was preparing for potential coronavirus cases a few weeks ago.
“Although this novel virus is understandably a cause for concern, it is important for New Jersey residents to know that the risk to the public remains low,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a statement at the time. “The New Jersey Department of Health works with hospitals and local health departments throughout respiratory virus and flu season on hundreds of disease outbreaks each year and we are prepared—along with our partners—to respond to potential novel coronavirus cases.”
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst was one of the military installations selected this week for housing suspected coronavirus cases. The base is one of 11 additional bases chosen by the Department of Defense to house up to 20 people “as they undergo a period of quarantined observation,” the Pentagon said in a statement on Thursday.
The selections were made in response to a request from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which asked the Pentagon for installations near 11 major airports that could house passengers suspected of having the virus should HHS facilities become filled.
HHS is in charge of all care, transportation, and security at the installations, as with previous coronavirus quarantines on military bases. If an individual is identified with symptoms, they will be taken to a hospital.
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is about 62 miles from Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the New York City area airports.