COVID outbreak on cruise ship approaching New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Ten people aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship approaching New Orleans have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Saturday night.

The Norwegian Breakaway had departed New Orleans on Nov. 28 and is due to return this weekend, the Louisiana Department of Health said in a news release. Over the past week, the ship made stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico.

More than 3,200 people are on board the ship, officials said.

According to the statement, Norwegian “has been adhering to appropriate quarantine and isolation protocols as new cases and exposures have been identified aboard this vessel.”

Prior to disembarking in New Orleans, each person on board will be tested for the coronavirus. Anyone who tests positive will either go directly home or self-isolate in accommodations provided by the cruise line, officials said.

Officials did not release any information about the conditions of those who have contracted the virus.

Cruise ships were an early source of outbreaks last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic as some ships were rejected at ports and passengers were forced into quarantine. Some passengers died of COVID-19 at sea while others fell so ill they had to be carried out of the vessels on stretchers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order in March 2020, prompting a standstill that ended last June as cruise ships began to leave U.S. ports with new health and safety requirements. According to Norwegian’s website, the company requires all passengers and crew members to have been vaccinated against the virus at least two weeks prior to departure.