REPORT: Authorities trying to locate hundreds of cruise ship passengers after American traveler tested positive for coronavirus

FEBRUARY 17, 2020

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As the most reliable and balanced news aggregation service on the internet, DML News App offers the following information published by Axios:

Several countries were trying on Monday to locate hundreds of passengers who departed the Westerdam cruise ship when it docked in Malaysia, where an American traveler tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Health experts have expressed concern that the passengers of the Westerdam, operated by Holland American Line, were released without a quarantine order, including the 83-year-old American woman infected with COVID-19.

The article goes on to state the following:

The big picture: The Westerdam was carrying 2,257 passengers and crew when it docked in Malaysia after several ports denied it entry over coronavirus fears, per the cruise liner. President Trump thanked Cambodia for accepting the ship Friday.

From Fortune magazine:

On Saturday, an 83-year-old American woman tested positive in Malaysia, a day after she and more than 2,200 others were cleared to leave the cruise ship Westerdam in Cambodia. The ship arrived there after being turned away by five other ports.

“This woman was on the boat and was infected for a few days — she could have potentially exposed other people on the boat who have now gone home,” said Stanley Deresinski, a Stanford University professor and infectious disease specialist at the university hospital. “There’s a possibility that anyone who is infected and asymptomatic could start a chain of infection wherever they return to.”

From the Washington Post:

Until now, officials have been aggressively monitoring those who traveled to China and those who have had close contact with an infected person. But the Westerdam oversight demonstrates how travelers without obvious symptoms could slip through screening processes.

“This illustrates there is transmission occurring in unexpected places that we’re not aware of,” said Jeff Duchin, health officer and chief of communicable disease epidemiology section at Seattle and King County health department. “The virus is moving very quickly and silently and presents a real challenge to containment.”

Duchin noted, however, that the reported cases occurring in places outside China are not large-scale yet. Health officials still need to focus on where they can have the greatest impact on controlling the outbreak, he said, which is in China.

Duchin said officials are “increasingly” seeing cases of the virus reported in other parts of the world, “and that makes it difficult for us as a country to know when someone who may have been exposed outside of China enters the United States.”

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