Story developing, this story will be updated as more information is received.
252 of 919 passengers onboard a cruise ship that visited Newport last week have reported being ill upon arriving in Portland, Maine over the weekend. Balmoral has now left the US and is due to arrive in Saint John, New Brunswick later today
Fred Olson Cruise Lines Balmoral, which is currently on a 34 night ‘”Old England to New England’” tour, visited Newport on Thursday, May 5th.
According to a CDC Report, the cruise ship tested positive for norovirus before arriving in Newport on May 5th, “Two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and an epidemiologist boarded the ship upon arrival in Baltimore, MD on April 30-May 1, 2016 to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. Specimens have been collected and tested onboard using a norovirus rapid test; results were positive for norovirus. The specimens will be sent to CDC for additional testing.”
“Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines can confirm that a gastro-enteritis type illness has affected a number of guests on board Balmoral’s 34-night L1608 ‘Old England to New England’ cruise, which departed from Southampton, UK on 16th April 2016. There are currently 15 guests who have been required to remain in their cabins, out of a total of 1,434 guests and crew on board. The majority of guests on board are British,” the cruise line shared in an official statement.
According to Mirror.co.uk, this is the the cruise liners sixth virus outbreak since 2009.
More from the prepared official statement;
“Balmoral has undergone inspections by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Coastguard and received a US Public Health score of 91%. Balmoral has now left the US and is due to arrive in Saint John, New Brunswick later today [9th May 2016]. At no point has Balmoral been quarantined in any port on this cruise, and is continuing as planned,
Fred. Olsen has been undertaking extensive sanitisation measures and cleaning of the ship, following the company’s strict illness containment and prevention plan. It is believed that the highly-contagious gastric illness was brought onto the ship, and is spread by person-to-person – or surface-to-surface – contact. Clusters are more commonly seen in areas where people are in close confines, such as hotels, schools and hospitals, as well as cruise ships.
Most people do not report incidences, but on a cruise ship, cases are particularly highlighted. Commonly, the illness abates within one or two days. Those guests who are affected are asked to remain in their cabins during this time – with complimentary room service and in-room entertainment.
Fred. Olsen is co-operating fully with all the necessary maritime agencies and authorities and will continue to make every effort possible to ensure the safety and well-being of all its guests and crew on board, which is of paramount importance.
Fred. Olsen’s cruise ships meet, at all times, the highest safety, hygiene and health standards, and comply fully with the strict requirements and inspections of their Flag State, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and other relevant authorities.”
Balmoral is not scheduled to return to Newport in 2016.
Investigation Update from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Cruise Line: Fred Olsen Cruises
- Cruise Ship: Balmoral
- Voyage Dates: April 16 – May 20, 2016
- Number of passengers who have reported being ill during the voyage out of total number of passengers onboard: 252 of 919 (27.42%)
- Number of crew who have reported being ill during the voyage out of total number of crew onboard: 8 of 520 (1.54%)
- Predominant symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea
- Causative agent: Norovirus
Actions: In response to the outbreak, Fred Olsen Cruises and the crew aboard the ship reported the following actions:
- Increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan,
- Collecting stool specimens from passenger and crew gastrointestinal illness cases for testing,
- Making multiple daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the VSP,
- Sent public health and sanitation manager from the cruise line corporate office to oversee and assist with implementation of the sanitation and outbreak response procedures.
- Two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and an epidemiologist boarded the ship upon arrival in Baltimore, MD on April 30-May 1, 2016 to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. Specimens have been collected and tested onboard using a norovirus rapid test; results were positive for norovirus. The specimens will be sent to CDC for additional testing.