A CARICOM country, Belize, last night turned back a cruise ship carrying a passenger who may’ve come in contact with the dead Ebola victim, Thomas Duncan.
The unnamed passenger was traveling aboard the Carnival Magic, which left Galveston, Texas on Sunday.
The passenger is a lab supervisor at the Texas Presbyterian hospital, and may have handled contagious fluids and samples from Duncan.
Citing “an abundance of caution,” Belizean authorities refused to allow the passenger and her companion to disembark.
Around 9:40 yesterday morning, the US State Department contacted Belizean authorities, informing them of the passenger’s presence on board the Carnival Magic.
CEO in the Office of the Prime Minister, Audrey Wallace, says the State Department informed her that the Centers for Disease Control, CDC, had recently updated their requirements from self monitoring to active monitoring.
The passenger had reportedly quarantined herself in her cabin, and was checking and reporting her status and any possible symptoms daily.
It’s been 17 days since the worker was possibly exposed to Ebola, and reports are that she was not showing any signs of infection.
But Ebola’s maximum incubation period is 21 days, and with the new regulations, the State Department decided they needed to get the worker back to the United States for active monitoring.
At an emergency press conference this morning, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said Secretary of State John Kerry called him, requesting that the passenger be evacuated.
The Americans then made another proposal, which was also declined.
Prime Minister Barrow says he has great sympathy for the United States, but had to be concerned about Belizeans first.
He says despite the assurances of Secretary Kerry that there was very low risk, he had his concerns.
Then, yet another proposal was for a helicopter to airlift the passenger off the cruise ship and transport her to the country’s airport.
But by then, Mr. Barrow’s mind was made up.
At about 10:30 last night, the Coast Guard escorted the ship out of Belizean waters.
It then made its way to Cozumel, Mexico, but Mexican authorities also refused to allow it permission to dock.
As a result, the ship was forced to return to Galveston, Texas, where it is headed now.