A cruise ship allowed thousands of passengers to disembark in Miami Sunday without undergoing screening just days after a passenger left the ship and later tested positive for coronavirus.
The passenger left the MSC Meraviglia in Miami March 8, with 103 passengers and crew remaining aboard for the next voyage. By the time the Health Agency of Canada informed MSC Cruises the ex-passenger had tested positive, the ship had sailed again with thousands of additional passengers, the Miami Herald reported.
The company said it isolated seven crew members who had been in close contact with the passenger in individual cabins upon receiving the results, but said that health officials authorized the ship to dock Sunday and follow normal disembarking procedures.
A total of 3,877 passengers disembarked, several of whom proceeded to Miami International Airport. In contrast, the California health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have kept thousands of passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship before eventually allowing it to dock in Oakland, where it remains as officials work to repatriate crew and passengers.
“If we have it, it’s going to spread throughout the country,” a passenger on the Meraviglia told the newspaper from his home in South Carolina.
“When I say there was no check, there was none whatsoever. I expected us to have some kind of a screening. They didn’t do a single thing. We walked straight off the ship. There wasn’t any check on anyone for anything,” added the man, who asked to remain anonymous.
MSC Cruises told the newspaper no one on board had symptoms of the virus.
“We worked closely with the Health Authorities in Canada, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and PortMiami and followed all protocols as required,” MSC Cruises spokesperson Alyssa Goldfarb told the Herald.
“MSC Meraviglia received clearance after health authorities reviewed all the necessary documentation regarding the health of passengers and crew on board today and throughout the cruise,” she added.
Health officials have said patients may be carriers of the virus even if they do not manifest symptoms.