Quarantined Cruise Passengers Arrive From France in Atlanta

March 20, 2020 Updated: March 20, 2020
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ATLANTA—A jet carrying 359 people including hundreds of American and Canadian cruise ship passengers home from France landed at Atlanta’s international airport on Friday as emergency responders prepared to screen them for the CCP virus, federal officials said.

Three people on the flight have tested positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms, while 13 others are sick but haven’t been tested, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

Some passengers complained on social media that there were no health care workers or doctors in the plane and they had not been given food in 24 hours.

At least some of the passengers—many of them from the cruise ship Costa Luminosa—were being taken to a hangar for screening.

For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority recover.

Ashley Ecker says her parents were on the jet after disembarking from the Costa Luminosa. The trans-Atlantic Costa Cruises ship, carrying more than 1,400 people, had been looking for a port after reporting sick passengers on board, and was allowed to dock in Marseille under strict quarantine conditions.

Epoch Times Photo
The trans-Atlantic cruise ship Costa Luminosa moored at Marseille harbor on March 20, 2020. (Clement Mahoudeau/AFP/Getty Images)

“My mom said there was a passenger on board with medical training that was able to help, but no medical staff were provided by the cruise line or government,” Ecker said.

The Fort Lauderdale-based ship from Italian company Costa Cruises, which in turn is owned by Carnival Corp., had been denied permission to disembark its passengers in some Caribbean ports and Spain, after that government decided to close the country’s ports to passenger traffic.

Costa Cruises said three passengers who were removed from the ship in the Cayman Islands and Puerto Rico have tested positive for COVID-19, including a 68-year-old man who died last weekend. On Monday, two European passengers who had breathing problems and one who had a fever were taken off and hospitalized during a technical stop in the Canary Islands.

Some of the passengers said they boarded the ship on March 5 in Fort Lauderdale after the company refused to give them a refund and told them it was safe to travel. Three days later, the U.S. State Department issued a warning for U.S. citizens not to travel on cruise ships.

Now that they’re in Georgia, state officials said they’re encouraging federal officials to bring commercial buses to the Atlanta airport so that troopers can escort them to another quarantine.

By Jeff Martin and Adriana Gomez-Licon