BELIZE CITY – The Government of Belize, at about 10:43 tonight, issued a press release confirming information received by Amandala earlier this evening that a female passenger aboard a cruise ship, Carnival Magic, may have had contact with the Ebola virus, and the American government had sent an air bus to transport her out of Belize and back to the US.
The woman, a lab technician, reportedly was one of about 70 workers who came in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who traveled from Liberia to the United States infected with the Ebola virus, and died at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday at 7:51 a.m. after he was treated with an experimental drug.
Amandala was told that the woman was accompanied on the cruise ship by her husband.
Reports to us are that the woman and her husband were put in quarantine aboard the ship, which was anchored in the Belize City Harbour. It is not known how the woman was allowed to leave the US, in light of the possibility that she may have been exhibiting symptoms of the Ebola virus.
The American air ambulance landed at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) between 7:00 and 8:00 tonight, Thursday.
Some reports say that no one came off the ship, Carnival Magic, one of Carnival Cruise’s dream line ships that were constructed in 2011, but credible reports to us are that a number of passengers did leave the ship for prearranged tours in Belize.
The unofficial reports Amandala has received all say, however, that the woman and her husband did not leave the ship, which was scheduled to leave our harbour at 4:00 p.m. today.
Credible reports reaching us tonight are that Prime Minister Dean Barrow was put under severe pressure by the US to allow the couple to be taken off the cruise ship and transported to the PGIA to board the waiting air ambulance.
The Prime Minister, we understand, held his ground and refused to allow the couple to leave the ship, and the plane, at about 9:00 tonight, left the PGIA without the two Americans. It is not known whether the other passengers on the ship knew that the two passengers were under surveillance by US medical authorities.
In any case, PM Barrow, we were told, ordered the ship to leave Belizean waters “within the hour,” which would be at about 9:00 p.m., about the same time the US plane was leaving empty at the PGIA.
GOB’s release of tonight said that “The Government of Belize was contacted today by officers of the US Government and made aware of a cruise ship passenger considered a very low risk for Ebola. The passenger had voluntarily entered quarantine on board the ship and remains free of any fever or other symptoms of illness. The Ebola virus may only be spread by patients who are experiencing fever and symptoms of illness and so the US Government had emphasized the very low risk category in this case.
“Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a US request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Philip Goldson International Airport.
The GOB reassures the public that the passenger never set foot in Belize.”
The cruise ship left Texas, according to an online schedule, on Sunday, and the itinerary included a stop in Cozumel, Mexico, before it headed to Belize.