The parking lot at Cape Liberty cruise port was supposed to be packed full of travelers. Instead, coronavirus fears will be keeping the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas docked at bay for at least another two days.
Exactly what triggered the cruise line to take added precautions remains a mystery, CBS2’s Christina Fan reports.
When the ship arrived Friday morning, 27 passengers who recently traveled from mainland China were screened for the virus. Of those 27, four were hospitalized for evaluation.
Gov. Phil Murphy released a statement Saturday afternoon saying all four passengers tested negative for novel coronavirus. Three of those passengers, who stayed in the same cabin, were diagnosed with influenza. The other individual stayed in a separate cabin and did not have any symptoms.
All four individuals were discharged from the hospital.
All four passengers from the cruise ship docked in Bayonne tested negative for novel coronavirus. New Jersey currently has no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and the risk to residents remains low.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) February 9, 2020
Thousands were set to board the ship Friday for the next trip, but were told they would have to wait until 5 p.m. Saturday as the cruise line waited for conclusive results from the CDC.
Departures was then pushed back again to Monday afternoon.
Passengers who were supposed to be on an eight-night cruise headed to the Bahamas instead were scrambling for last-minute hotels yet again.
“A little upset, you know? This is a little frustrating, going through this. You’re told one thing and then next thing you know, you have all kinds of other questions,” passenger Maurice Simmons said.
“I’m glad that they’re taking the precautions, but also we haven’t heard anything else as far as any positives,” passenger Jessica Buck, of Pennsylvania, said.
Some passengers are contemplating changing their plans.
“Earlier, we were talking about taking a flight to Orlando so we can take a vacation there,” Camilla Woer, of Denmark, said.
Those who do board will face new travel restrictions.
The cruise line says because of the outbreak, they will be denying boarding to anyone who has been to China in the past 15 days and those who show signs of fevers.
Royal Caribbean also told CBS2 that during their last trip, while they were in St. Lucia on Feb. 2, a male crew member was discovered dead, but the death is not suspicious and is not related to coronavirus concerns in any way.
The U.S. Embassy in Beijing says a 60-year-old American citizen diagnosed with the virus has died in Wuhan, apparently the first U.S. fatality of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, a fourth person being tested for the virus in New York City has been cleared. A fifth patient is still awaiting results.
Amid the outbreak, New York City officials are reminding the public that it’s safe to head to Chinatown. Gregg Bishop, the Commissioner of Small Business Services, dined at a restaurant on Mott Street on Saturday.
Businesses in Chinatown have reported a slump in sales over the past few weeks as coronavirus has remained in the headlines.
“It is totally safe to come out and have dinner, you know, just be in the communities. It’s a Lunar New Year, and we want to make sure that New Yorkers know that they can come out and support all these small businesses because they are the backbone of the city’s economy,” Gregg Bishop said.
In China, more than 34,000 people have been infected and 810 have died.