Cruise norovirus out­break climbs to nearly 500 peo­ple

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Cha­beli Her­rera cher­[email protected]­lan­dosen­tinel.com; 407-420-5660; Twit­ter @Cha­beliH

The num­ber of pas­sen­gers and crew mem­bers that have been sick­ened by a norovirus out­break on Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional’s Oa­sis of the Seas has risen to nearly 500, as the ship con­tin­ues its re­turn to Port Canaveral.

The mas­sive cruise ship changed course Thurs­day, when 277 peo­ple were found hav­ing con­tracted norovirus, a gas­troin­testi­nal ill­ness that causes vom­it­ing and di­ar­rhea and is spread through con­tact.

Oa­sis of the Seas, which is on a seven-day Western Caribbean itin­er­ary, had to cut the trip short by a day. Pas­sen­gers didn’t dis­em­bark on their sec­ond port of call, Fal­mouth, Ja­maica, and will skip a planned stop in Cozumel, Mex­ico. The 6,285-pas­sen­ger ship will re­turn to Port Canaveral on Sat­ur­day.

By Fri­day af­ter­noon, pas­sen­gers were no­ti­fied via a ship­wide an­nounce­ment that the num­ber of peo­ple af­fected had climbed.

“You might have no­ticed that we are ev­ery­where in the me­dia when it comes to our out­break here, which is most likely norovirus,” the an­nounce­ment said, ac­cord­ing to a video sent to the Or­lando Sen­tinel by pas­sen­ger Shawn Pope­leski. “The lat­est that I can share with you here is that we have had a to­tal dur­ing the cruise here some­where around 475 peo­ple af­fected.”

About 100 peo­ple who are still ex­hibit­ing symp­toms of norovirus are quar­an­tined in their cab­ins to stop the spread of the ill­ness.

Erica Sat­tler, a 22-year-old pas­sen­ger from New York who is cel­e­brat­ing her mom’s birth­day on the ship, said she and her fam­ily sup­port the cruise line’s de­ci­sion to cut the trip short.

“With so many sick peo­ple I don’t think that any­one ob­jected to us head­ing straight back,” Sat­tler said. “We just hope that ev­ery­one gets bet­ter soon and that no­body else gets sick.”

In the mean­time, the crew has been work­ing “tire­lessly” to wipe down and dis­in­fect sur­faces, she said. Royal Caribbean is giv­ing all pas­sen­gers a full re­fund for the in­con­ve­nience.

“The crew is han­dling things on the ship so well and they’re go­ing above and be­yond to take care of us and not make this a mis­er­able time de­spite the cir­cum­stances,” Sat­tler said.

Cruise ships are re­quired to re­port out­breaks of norovirus to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion any time the amount of pas­sen­gers af­fected sur­passes 2 per­cent of the to­tal pas­sen­ger count. The CDC’s Ves­sel San­i­ta­tion Pro­gram posts in­ci­dents on its web­site when the out­breaks in­clude more than 3 per­cent of the pas­sen­gers and crew on­board.

MI­AMI HER­ALD

Nearly 500 peo­ple have been af­fected by a norovirus out­break on Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional's Oa­sis of the Seas.

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