Over 1,000 American passengers will be stranded on a cruise ship on Christmas Day after authorities in the western Mexican state of Jalisco barred them from disembarking because 21 crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
The Holland America Line ship set sail from San Diego on Sunday, stopping in the Mexican resort cities of Los Cabos and Mazatlán before arriving in Puerto Vallarta at around 7.30 a.m. on Thursday.
According to Mexican news outlet Milenio, the Jalisco state health department considered allowing each of the 1,035 passengers off the MS Koningsdam, which has at least 873 crew members, as long as they provided proof of negative COVID-19 tests.
However, officials quickly reversed their decision due to concerns that the outbreak had spread beyond the 21 infected crew members.
Passengers have been irritated by the decision, with one, Paulette Laussane York, taking a photo of the port city’s beach shoreline.
‘This option was discarded because the health protocols indicate that no one could disembark when positive cases were registered on the boat, so the decision was finally made not to disembark,’ the health department said in a statement.
Last Saturday, all passengers on the Kongingsdam were required to submit a negative coronavirus test after one of the passengers tested positive for the virus. It is unknown how many passengers have been infected.
It comes as the Omicron virus continues to cause a surge in new COVID cases across the United States, with total infections approaching an all-time high on Christmas Eve.
Omicron; Latest Numbers in America.
According to Johns Hopkins University data released on Friday, there were 261,339 new cases in the last 24 hours, up 10% from 238,378 the day before.
The number of deaths caused by the virus has also risen to 3,354, a 52% increase from the previous day’s total of 2,204. This is the highest single-day total since October 13, when 3,054 people died.
In one day, the number of American Omicron infections increased by 45 percent, from 2,625 to 3,286. Because the US only sequences a very small proportion of positive PCR tests to determine which strain caused a person’s infection, these represent a tiny fraction of the true total.
This week, three other cruise ships based in South Florida have been affected by the regional increase in COVID-19 cases.
A Carnival Freedom cruise was denied entry to Bonaire and Aruba after some of its passengers and crew tested positive for the coronavirus.
The cruise, which has 2,497 passengers and 1,112 crew members, was scheduled to return to Miami on Sunday after an eight-day voyage. According to Carnival, passengers were required to be vaccinated and tested before departing last Saturday.
The statement said, ‘Carnival Freedom is following all protocols and has a small number on board who are in isolation due to a positive COVID test.’ ‘Our protocols anticipate this possibility and we implement them as needed to protect our guests’ and crew’s health and safety.’