Ebola Scare on Car­ni­val Cruise Ship

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Toni Ni­cholas

With the win­ter cruise sea­son open­ing here in Saint Lu­cia soon, the threat to this sec­tor from any case of Ebola and the im­pact it may have is a real con­cern. This week marine, yacht­ing and cruise of­fi­cials met here to dis­cuss the is­land’s state of preparedness as Saint Lu­cia gears up for not just another cruise sea­son but also the an­nual At­lantic Rally for Cruis­ers.

Speak­ing at the meet­ing Thurs­day, mar­itime con­sul­tant in the Min­istry of Tourism, Cuth­bert Di­dier said that all the nec­es­sary pro­to­cols must be in place ahead of th­ese events. “We must also share timely in­for­ma­tion and have a free-flow of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with­out nec­es­sar­ily en­gag­ing in any blind panic,” Di­dier said.

But for a num­ber of taxi driv­ers the con­cerns are in­deed real and also scary. “I am not sure how pre­pared we are and as far as this win­ter cruise sea­son goes I am adopt­ing a ‘wait and see’ ap­proach to de­cide if I will in­deed be work­ing,” one con­cerned taxi driver told the STAR this week.

A re­port in the UK Daily Mail on Fri­day about a pos­si­ble Ebola scare on a Caribbean cruise ship is also caus­ing some dis­tress among the sec­tor. Ac­cord­ing to the Mail a Dal­las health­care worker who han­dled a lab spec­i­men from a Liberian man who died from Ebola is self-quar­an­tined on a Caribbean cruise ship and is be­ing mon­i­tored for in­fec­tion. This was con­firmed by the White House.

The woman is said to be an em­ployee of Texas Health Pres­by­te­rian Hos­pi­tal and had shown no signs of the dis­ease and has been asymp­to­matic for 19 days, an Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion spokesman said. Ac­cord­ing to the State depart­ment the gov­ern­ment is work­ing to re­turn the woman and her hus­band to the U.S. be­fore the ship, the Car­ni­val Magic, com­pletes its cruise.

One of­fi­cial said it’s be­lieved the woman poses no risk but health­care au­thor­i­ties want to get her off the cruise ship and back to the U.S. out of an abun­dance of cau­tion. US State Depart­ment spokesman Jen Psaki said the worker joined the cruise ship with a com­pan­ion in Galve­ston, Texas on Oc­to­ber 12. There have been no re­stric­tions placed on other pas­sen­gers aboard the ship.

A state­ment from Car­ni­val Cruise Lines said that the woman, a lab su­per­vi­sor, re­mained in iso­la­tion ‘and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew’.

‘We are in close con­tact with the CDC and at this time it has been de­ter­mined that the ap­pro­pri­ate course of ac­tion is to sim­ply keep the guest in iso­la­tion on board,’ the state­ment said.

The cruise ship is car­ry­ing more than 4,600 pas­sen­gers and crew.

Caribbean coun­tries on the Gulf of Mex­ico cruise cir­cuit have been among the first to close their bor­ders to trav­el­ers from Ebola hotspots, with four na­tions lay­ing down bans.

Ja­maica has joined Colom­bia, Guyana and Saint Lu­cia as coun­tries denying en­try to trav­el­ers who re­cently vis­ited the Ebola-af­fected na­tions.

Ja­maica’s travel ban ex­tends to ‘per­sons or­di­nar­ily res­i­dent in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as per­sons who have trav­eled to or tran­sited through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, within 28 days of hav­ing de­parted from th­ese coun­tries,’ the gov­ern­ment said.

Ebola is spread through close con­tact with an in­fected per­son’s bod­ily flu­ids such as blood, sweat, vomit, fe­ces, urine, saliva or se­men. Those flu­ids must have an en­try point, like a cut or scrape or some­one touch­ing the nose, mouth or eyes with con­tam­i­nated hands, or be­ing splashed. For this rea­son health­care work­ers wear pro­tec­tive gloves, full-body suits and masks.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion says blood, fe­ces and vomit are the most in­fec­tious flu­ids, while the virus is found in saliva mostly once pa­tients are se­verely ill and the whole live virus has never been culled from sweat.

Car­ni­val Cruise ship Magic on Fri­day re­ported an Ebola scare from one of

its pas­sen­gers near Belizean shores.

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