US cruise ship in Ebola scare returns to port in Texas

Health officials says woman at centre of concerns poses no risk

Tourists enjoy a ride on a catamaran with the cruise ship Carnival Magic in the background off  Cozumel, Mexico. Photograph: Reuters

Tourists enjoy a ride on a catamaran with the cruise ship Carnival Magic in the background off Cozumel, Mexico. Photograph: Reuters

 

A US cruise ship carrying a health care worker who is being monitored for signs of Ebola has returned to port in Texas.

Company and federal officials have said the Dallas woman being monitored for Ebola poses no risk because she has shown no symptoms and has voluntarily self-quarantined.

Petty Officer Andy Kendrick said a Coast Guard crew flew in a helicopter yesterday to meet the Carnival Magic and retrieved a blood sample from the woman. He said the blood sample was taken to a state lab in Austin for processing. Mr Kendrick said the decision to take the sample was made in coordination with the federal, state and local health authorities.

US government officials said the passenger handled a lab specimen from a Liberian man who died from Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital earlier this month.

Officials said the woman poses no risk because she has shown no signs of illness for 19 days and has self-quarantined on the cruise ship.

US officials had been seeking ways to return the woman and her husband to the US before the ship completed its cruise.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that when the woman left the US on the ship from Texas on October 12th, health officials were requiring only self-monitoring.

Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement that the woman, a lab supervisor, remained in isolation “and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew”. The ship was not allowed to dock in Cozumel, Mexico on Friday, a day after Belize refused to let the passenger leave the vessel.

There have been no restrictions placed on other passengers aboard the ship, officials said.

The cruise line said on Friday that after not receiving clearance, the ship left Cozumel waters shortly after noon with the goal of returning to its home port of Galveston as originally scheduled.