One Person Dead Aboard Celebrity Cruise Ship, 2 Royal Caribbean Crew Airlifted Off Vessel
Currently, no guests remain on either the Infinity or the Oasis of the Seas, but some crew members are still on board in isolation, according to the Miami Herald
One person has died and two were airlifted from cruise ships near Florida amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
An individual aboard Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity ship has died, the company confirmed to PEOPLE. The person was a member of the ship’s crew, according to several outlets.
Additionally, two crew members on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas have been airlifted off their ship for “medical reasons,” USA Today reports. Royal Caribbean did not immediately reply to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Royal Caribbean Cruises is the parent company of both Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. The Miami-based company would not confirm whether any of the three people were confirmed to have the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Due to ongoing travel restrictions and port closures, the Infinity is currently positioned off Florida’s west coast, while the Oasis of the Seas is off Broward County on the east coast, near the cruise hub of Ft. Lauderdale.
Currently, no guests remain on either ship, but some crew members are still on board in isolation, according to the Miami Herald.
“All guests on Oasis and Infinity have disembarked, and we are focused on the health and well-being of our crew who are our foremost priority,” Royal Caribbean spokesperson Jonathon Fishman told the Herald. “In accordance with our health and safety protocols, crew members who exhibited influenza-like symptoms have been examined by our medical staff and have been asked to self-isolate in their cabins under medical observation.”
According to the outlet, some crew members are waiting to be repatriated to their home countries.
Numerous cruise ships have been turned away from international ports in recent weeks due to expanding travel restrictions and in several instances, confirmed cases of COVID-19 — or fears of potential illness — on board.
As announced in a statement on the Royal Caribbean website on March 14, the company has suspended global cruising for all of their fleet in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This includes six different cruise lines: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, Tui Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Pullmanter.
On March 24, they announced this suspension would be effective through May 11. “Our goal is to resume operations for most of our ships on May 12th, 2020,” the statement reads.
Royal Caribbean is far from the only cruise company to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, Carnival Corporation confirmed that thousands ofpassengers are still stranded at sea on its cruise ships amid the ongoing pandemic.
The corporation, which is the parent company of major cruise lines including Carnival, Princess and Holland America, disclosed the information in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. They stated “there are approximately 6,000 passengers onboard ships still at sea,” and they “are expected to disembark . . . by the end of April.”
It was not immediately clear how many different ships those passengers are aboard, but a representative for the company told PEOPLE, “We expect to have three ships at sea by the end of this week.”
Princess Cruise Lines’ Diamond Princess and Grand Princess ships, and Holland America’s MS Zaandam, which are all owned by Carnival Corp., have experienced the worst outbreaks to date, with hundreds of cases and several deaths of guests and crew onboard.
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Speaking to PEOPLE about why cruise vacations are particularly dangerous amid the pandemic last month, infectious disease expert Dr. William Haseltine noted that cruise ships “are incubators. Everybody’s close together, packed in all the time. One person gets sick, a lot of them get sick. It’s a very unfavorable environment for disease transmission.”
On March 9, the U.S. State Department issued a warning that Americans “should not travel by cruise ship” at this time, noting that the “cruise ship environment” can foster an “increased risk of infection.” The Centers for Disease Control issued a similar statement.
As of Friday morning, there have been at least 244,228 cases and 6,257 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to The New York Times.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.