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Gastro outbreak sickens about 300 passengers, forces cruise ship to return to US

CARIBBEAN PRINCESS CRUISE SHIP (William Murphy/Flickr)

A gastrointestinal outbreak aboard a Caribbean cruise ship sickened 299 passengers and 22 crew members, forcing the vessel to return to the U.S. earlier than expected, federal health officials said Monday.

The Caribbean Princess, which is carrying more than 3,000 passengers and a 1,000-member crew, was denied entry to Trinidad and Tobago because of the “significant outbreak,” the country’s health ministry said in a statement. The decision was made “as a precautionary measure to protect” the island’s population, the statement reads.

The ship, operated by Princess Cruise Lines, is heading back to Florida and is expected to arrive in Fort Lauderdale by Thursday morning.

The symptoms reported so far have been “mild” and the patients are being treated by an onboard medical team, the California-based company told the Daily News.

“This is a highly unusual development and we share the disappointment of our guests,” the cruise line said in a statement. “However, the health and safety of our guests and crew is our top priority, and in working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was decided out of an abundance of caution, in this specific instance, to discontinue the cruise.”

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The company is the same one operating a quarantined ship off the coast of Japan where more than 130 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus. The Diamond Princess vessel is anchored at Yokohoma, just south of Tokyo, with more than 3,000 passengers and crew members.

Princess Cruise Lines said it would refund the full cruise fare for all guests quarantined in Japan.

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© 2020 New York Daily News