SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Health officials confirmed Tuesday that a passenger and three crew members aboard the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship, the last ship allowed to drop off passengers in San Diego, have tested positive for COVID-19.
A passenger confirmed they were sent an email by the cruise line informing them of one case, advising them to self-quarantine for 14 days. County officials say the passenger is not a San Diego resident, however, they did not say where that person is from.
On Monday, when the ship docked port officials said no one on board had any signs or symptoms of any illness. Many passengers said the news of a passenger testing positive for COVID-19 came as a surprise because they felt they were in a safe place on the ship.
News of the three crew members testing positive was announced by county officials later in the day. Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's medical director of epidemiology said the passenger was medically evacuated on Monday morning with cardiac and respiratory complaints. He said the patient was transported using precautions for spreading COVID-19 and later tested positive. McDonald said as of Wednesday the patient remained hospitalized in serious condition.
McDonald said three crew members who had been isolated on the ship with respiratory symptoms were tested positive for the virus.
"Close contacts of these cases had been previously identified and quarantined on the ship. One of these crew members was transported to a local hospital overnight for further care, and I do not have an update on that person's condition," McDonald said.
News 8 captured video of an ambulance arriving at the Port of San Diego on Monday around 7 a.m. That ambulance had to wait for the passenger patient to go through customs before they could take that patient to a hospital. A family member also reached out to News 8 and said that their relative is currently being treated and was in the ICU at a local hospital.
Below is the email a passenger received from Celebrity Eclipse Cruises, one day after she and hundreds of other passengers disembarked. The ship is currently allowing passengers to disembark Tuesday which will continue through midnight, according to the county. The ship is scheduled to leave San Diego Wednesday morning.
"Dear Celebrity Eclipse Passenger,
Celebrity Cruises has recently been advised that a person who sailed on Celebrity Eclipse from March 1 through 30 has recently tested positive for COVID-19. Because you were a passenger on this same voyage, it is possible you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution you should now follow the below procedures for self-isolation.
Stay home for 14 days from the time you returned home from the Celebrity Eclipse and practice social distancing:
- Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school.
Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares.
Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).
If you get sick with fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher) or cough in the 14 days after you return from travel, please take the following precautions:
- Stay home. Avoid contact with others.
- You might have COVID-19; most people are able to recover at home without medical care.
- If you have trouble breathing or are worried about your symptoms, call or text a health care provider. Tell them about your recent cruise ship travel and your symptoms.
Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
If you need to seek medical care for other reasons, such as dialysis, call ahead to your doctor and tell them about your recent travel on a cruise ship. For additional information please visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/COVID19
We appreciate your cooperation and understanding. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Celebrity Cruises at 1-844-418-6824 in North America or (316) 554-5961 worldwide. Sincerely, Celebrity Cruises."
Many of the passengers said they felt safer on the ship than disembarking and coming into San Diego because they were told that there were no cases and no one with any signs or symptoms.
Michelle Stevens, who was aboard the ship on Monday, said she appreciated the Celebrity Eclipse crewmembers for taking care of their health and well-being.
“I would hope they didn’t lie to us -- I’m just hoping they come out and tell us a little bit more about it. But they were so good to us on the ship, I would have a hard time thinking they lied to us on purpose,” Stevens said.
News 8 reached out to the county to find out why people were being allowed to get off of the ship, despite the positive COVID-19 case.
“There is no change in the plan of disembarking the remaining passengers today. They will be screened prior to departure and only those who are asymptomatic and without fever are allowed to leave and proceed to transportation out of the county.” Said Jose Alvarez, San Diego County
County officials say they are following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines in allowing people to disembark. News 8 reached out to the CDC to find out why people were not notified of this case and why it was safe for them to disembark, but were still waiting to hear back as of Tuesday afternoon.
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According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask.