A passenger aboard the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship docked in San Diego Harbor has tested positive for novel coronavirus, county health officials confirmed Tuesday.
A letter sent Tuesday to all the passengers by Celebrity Cruises instructed them to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“Celebrity Cruises has recently been advised that a person who sailed on Celebrity Eclipse from March 1st through 30th has recently tested positive for COVID-19. Because you were a passenger on the same voyage, it is possible you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19,” the letter reads.
Passengers were advised to take their temperature twice daily and monitor for symptoms such as fever, coughing and shortness of breath.
After the ship docked, the individual was taken to a hospital with medical issues that were not believed to be related to COVID-19, including possible pneumonia and heart issues, the Union-Tribune reported. Medical staff later diagnosed the patient, who is not a San Diego County resident, with the coronavirus.
County health officials said Monday that no patient aboard the ship had been diagnosed with the illness, and Celebrity Cruises appeared to confirm that earlier Tuesday morning before the diagnosis was announced.
“We received clearance from port authorities and public health officials to disembark our guests and return them safely to their homes. No guests or crew members reported with symptoms throughout the sailing, and guests are going through exit health screenings when they leave the ship. We remain in continuous contact with public health authorities and appreciate their guidance to protect the well-being of our guests and crew,” the cruise line statement read.
Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director of epidemiology, said Monday the health of the ship’s occupants was excellent. County health officials were in continuous contact with the ship’s crew for any sign of symptoms, he said.
McDonald said then that 17 cruise passengers are from San Diego County and would go straight home after disembarking from the ship and self-quarantine for 14 days, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Other passengers are from outside the county and will travel home and self-quarantine, he said.
The cruise ship, which began disembarking more than 2,300 passengers Monday, was the last one allowed to disembark in San Diego after a county health order prohibiting any disembarkations after Tuesday. County officials said the remaining passengers will disembark Tuesday after health screenings.
The county announced two new public heath orders Monday focused on cruise ships, one giving the county public health officer discretion on disembarkations if a passenger or crew member on the ship has tested positive for coronavirus and the other banning all cruise ships from disembarking in San Diego after Wednesday.
Cruise ships will still be able to dock in San Diego Harbor, but only for fuel and provisions. No one, passenger or crew, aboard the ship will be able to disembark until the public health emergency has ended, outside of limited, emergency situations.
Since San Diego County declared a public health emergency, five cruise ships have docked and disembarked some or all of their passengers in the city.
The remaining crew and 200 passengers of the Celebrity Eclipse were scheduled to leave San Diego at 5 p.m. Tuesday, heading to Acapulco, Mexico, where they will leave ship on April 4.
Currently, three cruise ships without passengers are anchored or berthed around San Diego Bay. The Regent Seven Seas Splendor is outside the bay and will dock April 1 at Broadway Pier until April 11. The Disney Wonder will remain docked at the B Street cruise terminal until April 19 and the Celebrity Millennium is anchored outside the bay but will dock April 2 for supplies.