HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The outbreak of COVID-19, better known as coronavirus, has caused a Galveston-based cruise liner to divert course away from its original destinations in the Caribbean.
The Carnival cruise ship Freedom was bound for Jamaica and Grand Cayman. On Tuesday, the company confirmed it was diverting course to the Key West Naval Yard in Florida.
In a statement by Carnival, it elected to make the change this week given uncertainty over policies with the countries involved:
We are implementing some itinerary changes on voyages scheduled to call on Grand Cayman and Jamaica this week. A number of Caribbean destinations continue to work through their policies with regards to cruise ship visits. And while we are following all U.S. CDC and World Health Organization screening protocols and guidelines, we want to avoid any possibility of a visit to a destination where there is uncertainty or we risk being turned away.
To be clear, there is no health situation on board to trigger this concern, but we are making this change to avoid even the possibility of a disruption. We understand some guests will be disappointed and trust they will understand that this decision is being made to protect their vacation and maximize their experience with us.
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Carnival's move comes in the wake of six total deaths in the U.S. attributed to the worldwide outbreak.
Chiefly, the U.S. has taken in patients from an evacuated Japanese cruise ship, the Diamond Princess. Those patients have been treated in Texas, Washington state and California, among other states.
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As of late last week, the Centers for Disease Control counted 11 confirmed cases in Texas, but it was revealed Monday that one of those patients was erroneously discharged from a care facility and then visited several places in the San Antonio area.
While there are confirmed cases in the U.S., health officials said most of them are from patients who contracted the respiratory illness overseas.
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Both Harris County and city of Houston said there have been no confirmed cases, as of Monday.
Cruise liner out of Galveston changes course over COVID-19