Same ship rejected by Jamaica presents suspected coronavirus case in Puerto Rico

The Costa Luminosa docked in Florida. (Photo: Peter Knego, USA Today)

Puerto Rico health officials on Sunday (March 8) have tested and commenced treatment for its first suspected case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The 68-year-old woman from Italy’s infected northern region is reportedly from the same ship Jamaica rejected nearly two weeks prior.

The woman, who was aboard the Costa Luminosa cruise which is run by Carnival Corporation is in isolation in a hospital in Puerto Rico. She arrived on the ship from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Costa Luminosa could dock when it arrived in Jamaica on Friday, February 28, however, the Ministry of Health and Wellness denied any disembarking privileges for Italians onboard out of concerns for the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement last Wednesday (March 4), Carnival said there was no health situation at the time, but the move was done to avoid any possibility of disruption. Two other ships from the Carnival Cruise Line, the Horizon and the Freedom, were scheduled to make stops in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands the same weekend but were forced to make different stops.

In the meantime, Governor of Puerto Rico Wanda Vázquez Garced urged residents not to panic as the government takes every precaution to minimise exposure to the new disease. “We are asking people to stay calm. We do not want this to become a hysteria,” the governor said during a news conference. “It’s being handled as a suspicious case. Let’s take it easy.”

Governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez Garced (Photo: El Vocero.com)

The number of cases continues to climb in the Caribbean with 13 confirmed reports of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic as well as French territories Martinique, St Martin, French Guiana, and Saint-Barthélemy.