ABC News reports that a Dallas health care worker who handled clinical specimens from Ebola-infected Thomas Duncan is on a Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Magic.

The cruise line says that the female worker is allegedly being "self-quarantined" and is being monitored for signs of infection. She apparently has no symptoms yet. 

She departed on a cruise ship from Galveston, Texas, on October 12th was out of the country before being notified of active monitoring required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She works at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, which treated Mr. Duncan (who died) where nurses Carnival MagicNina Pham and Amber Vinson tested positive for Ebola.

The hospital is being roundly criticized for having sloppy and irresponsible procedures to respond to an Ebola patient.

Carnival released a statement, saying:

"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." 

But there is a dispute whether Carnival had any choice but to keep the worker on the cruise ship. 

Belize (the port of call yesterday) banned the passenger and her traveling partner from entering the country. The ship has already stopped in Mahogany Bay, Honduras on Wednesday and is scheduled to sail on to Cozumel. 

A newspaper in Belize contains dramatic information indicating that the Prime Minister in Belize denied entry into Belize for the "stricken U.S. nationals to be air lifted to the U.S.A. for treatment." 

A news reporter in Belize quotes on her Facebook page an official source in Belize that after talks were concluded between Belize and the US State Department officials, Belize will not be permitting access of the Dallas hospital worker into the country to fly back to the states. 

So it seems unlikely that this case simply involves a situation where the woman is simply "self quarantining" as Carnival suggests. It appears more likely that efforts were unsuccessfully made to get her off of the cruise ship. 

Carnival Cruise EbolaThe cruise lines need to institute a protocol where they simply ask all passengers whether they have worked around an Ebola patient in the last three weeks. The cruise lines should prohibit them from cruising and refund their cruise fare. 

I have written about Ebola and the safety of the cruising public issue last week: Ebola on the High Seas: Should Cruise Passengers Worry About Becoming Infected?

Update: Carnival sent me a statement this morning which you can read here.  Meanwhile, Mexico bars the cruise ship from disembarking passengers.  Over two weeks ago, I was tweeting and asking why the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) had not issued Ebola-specific protocols. 

ABC News reports that the reaction on the Carnival cruise ships ranges from passengers being completely unfazed sitting by the pool to others being panicked and crying. The news accounts includes a photograph taken by cruise passenger Jeremy Malone who "saw 30 to 40 crew members with buckets of disinfectant who were lined up on along his hallway as they prepared to clean the ship . . . " It looks like these poor crew members not in protective suits were completely unprepared if this was really Ebola.

Carnival Cruise Ebola Scare

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update: Cruise Industry is Completely Unprepared for Ebola Outbreak

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Thomas Doerfer Creative Commons 3.0 (top); Jeremy Malone via ABC News (bottom) 

  • randy reyes

    Im belizean and honestly it feels bad to know that person didnt get permission to enter Belize. But honestly its risking our health. We dont have the desase here why risk? We are not ready to face maybe we will never be ready as you in the u.s to deal with that desease. You in the u.s were making so much scandall why didnt just got someway to pick her up directly? Make yourselves responsibly for your people. No one ask for them to come here. The u.s regects thousands of people daily to enter the u.s an they are not sick. See what it feels. Hope the sick person gets better tho. With her people attention and treatment.

  • Thinker67

    I am a Belizean reading news every day thru. the internet. In the first place the US should have not granted permission to this person to even get out of the country until she has proven not to be infected. I don’t think it’s the Cruise Ship to be blamed. Her, knowing that she worked where Mr. Duncan was infected with Ebola and knowing that he died of the virus already shoul have taken the necessary precautions!

  • Hyacinth

    Have been following Cruise Law and Maritime Executive for months because somehow I just knew this would spread via the shipping Industry. Little did I ever imagine it would reach Belize, our country, so fast. The thing is, even though the woman was kept in isolation, and her companion, they still allowed the passengers to disembark on Thursday….19 days into a 21 day incubation period…so, we are still at risk…why risk your population for cruise ship dollars?? Dead people don’t need money…let this be a lesson learned to other countries…

  • Excrewember

    and then let’s be honest, quarantine onbord ? Where ? In the room, great… Do you know that one crew member I’ll of a banal flu, spreads the virus over the AC system in a matter of hours and loads of other crew members get in immediately ? Due the bad filters ? And yes it goes all over the ship ? Yeah… I worked 15 years and I was getting a flu every month onboard, not to mention the bad care of the infitmery but that’s another story, and btw since I am home about a year now I haven’t had flu one time… So you decide about spreading the virus and sanitasing stuff carnival way… Yea right…
    This is carnival cheap and hiding the truth…

  • thaj ashby

    How many personnel is infected with this virus on board?? is there any alternative way we can get him quickly and safely to his way of transport back home with out spreading and make Belize a HOT ZONE? perhaps cover his body with a suit the entire body to avoid the distribution of this virus.

  • Ex Crew Member with CCL

    Well… lets dig on this, the person was quarantined ?!?! yeah ? where in their cabin ? GREAT ! lets talk about the AC system on these ships… and lets be honest; i was a crew member for about 14 years… and one of the biggest issues was that every month i would have a flu… and every few months i would deal with a very bad case of flu… that would take me out of work for days… and the infirmary would care… less then for a sick god, not to mention that time off was something i would never get when sick. But hey, once a crew member gets the flue, all the other crew members in that area would get it, why ? coz the sickness would move from cabin to cabin thanks to the AC system, and yes you would get an epidemic of flu immediately… Ebola yeah ? quarantined in their cabin ?! good luck
    FYI, i have left ships for about 16 months… and i never got a flu… talking about bad food, 16 hours of work a day, poor care from infirmary, yeah blame my immunity system coz i am weak, take that CCL… and there are so manny things to say about you.

    But hey it was sanitized ? really? by who ? qualified crew members ? let me tell you what, those housekeeping guys are tired and not very dedicated, and yes after 16 hours of work a day, ( and here is another thing, in the Fun Time system that logs the worked hours they will always have less then 10 hours ) these guys are sick and tired of doing any extra work… sanitizing, BS you might say, but how comes the classic GI spreads so fast and so much on ships ? exactly… so… shame on you Carnival, for not giving a F, in cases like this, like manny other times, when this should’ve ben dealt with so much differently… but in the end we dont care about people crew members or not… we care only about making money…

    There are so manny more

  • Your Boss From CCL

    Hey…paranoic filipino or indonesiano…it’s a virus!
    Do you know what’s a virus??? Is not spreading through the air bro’, needs some time for incubation got it?
    Don’t be frustrated…even if you worked 14 years on the housekeeping…meens that your brain is not able to do more, anyway…you’re reach now, with the money earned you bought already half of Manila or Bali 😂

  • Kay Valle

    I live in Belize. I know its sounds bad that the person was not granted permission to come to land. Please, understand that Belize is a small country having 350 thousand residents, we are NOT prepared for such a virus/disease. I think that the Prime Minister did the best to his knowledge to keep it safe for ALL Belizeans. Hope the lady get well soon and all this sickness go away. Thanks!

  • Roque Canul

    To begin with, I am sorry for the person/s who have the symptoms and really hope they get better soon. However, certain restrictions should have been placed on this person especially since she had dealt with a person who had died from this virus. I must apologize to the people who think us Belizeans were mean by denying entry but if this virus spreads in our country just imagine how devastating it would be for us being so small in population! Hope you all understand!

  • Maya

    I fully support the decision of the Prime minister Dean Barrow decision on this! Now he was not informed of this situation until the other passengers were already all over the country on their tours. This is ridiculous that He was not given the option to decline this! The US State Department sent an air ambulance despite the PM telling them No! Thank God for our Belizean people that let this go viral on Social media! Thank God for answered prayers. I pray this lady a speedy recovery but we are not equip to handle this in fact not even Texas Presbyterian Hospital was equip to handle it.

  • roman

    Its sad to know that these people have to stay in the cruise for so long, let God use his powers of healing to show that he exist and change the people into Gods world.

  • bzenreds

    The U.S. have a lot of protocols in place and yet the virus continues to spread. Belize is not equipped to deal with any kind of outbreak whether a flu or much worse Ebola. The Prime Minister I believe made a tough but necessary call to try to ensure the safety of his people.
    I hope that all the passengers are safe and that the young lady remains in the best of health.
    As for carnival and other cruise lines, they need to step up their practices and at least give people the option to get a refund or postpone their trip if they have been in contact with anyone with Ebola.

  • Robert Andrews

    I’m Belizean too, and I just wanted to state that the real issue of the individual’s denial of port of entry into Belize is that of infrastructure.

    Belize is a small country with a population of 350,000 inhabitants. The funds, training, structure, and everything else that entails quarantining and transporting an Ebola patient correctly does not exist in Belize. Receiving a potential Ebola patient puts the country at serious risks of an outbreak. Which frankly is not politically beneficial for the U.S. If the U.S. wants to transport Ebola patients into their country, that’s their political agenda; and if they have the infrastructure to do it and guarantee public safety, more power to them. Only a fool would try to take an Ebola patient into a hospital in Belize with or without quarantine procedures.

    News scares in Belize? Seriously? U.S. news reporters should reflect on the nonsense news and news scares that they’ve produced in the past few months regarding Ebola virus. And returning to the topic on politics it is within the best interest of the Belizean population to support the government’s decision in denying this individual or any other individual’s entry into the country when he or she may be potentially infected by Ebola virus.

  • Graham drax

    Ebola is not airborne like air con is not a issue.the only way you can get ebola is by touching mucus,urine,shit,and corpses

  • Larry

    On October 26 we leave on the magic. Is it safe?

  • If Ebola laden sewage is dumped into the sea, it could infect sea mammals and spread through the oceans. Protocols need to be put into place regarding decontaminating sewage, possibly with on-board incineration. The burning of biomass could help power ships rather than the current wasteful and dangerous system.