MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hundreds of healthy cruise ship passengers are expected to disembark from the Coral Princess beginning Sunday for their journey home.
After confirmation that two people on the ship had died of the coronavirus, Miami-Dade County leaders and US Coast Guard officials allowed the cruise ship to dock at PortMiami early Saturday morning.
“It’s unfortunate that on the way here two passengers died. So for me it was, ‘OK, we have to take some people out that are in serious condition and we need to save some lives.’ They need to have a plan and the plan didn’t really come into place until this morning. But I’m convinced the plan is solid,” said Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Gimenez said two of the critically ill patients have been taken to Larkin Hospital. Two others have been taken to Tampa for treatment.
The ship, which was initially supposed to dock at Port Everglades, had been denied by three countries and it was announced that 12 people onboard had COVID-19.
Healthy passengers have started to disembark the ship, but Mayor Gimenez says 65 passengers and crew members will remain on the ship under quarantine.
Those who are healthy are being given a health screening form.
Passengers that are headed to Miami International Airport will be taken to a closed-off terminal and will take charter flights home – one leaving at 9 p.m. and the other at 10 p.m.
Getting all the healthy passengers on the Coral Princess home will take several days, and the passengers are being told to self-isolate for 14 days once they arrive.
There are 1,898 people on the ship, including 1,020 guests and 878 crew members.
Coral Princess set sail on March 5 from Santiago, Chile on a South America voyage which was scheduled to end in Buenos Aires on March 19.
On March 12, Princess Cruises announced a 60-day pause in operations in response to the global spread of coronavirus.
Coral Princess had planned to disembark in Buenos Aires on March 19 and March 20 as originally scheduled.
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