Oct 19, 2014 6:56 AM

Cruise ship with monitored health worker returns

The Associated Press

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) A Texas-based cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who is being monitored for signs of Ebola returned to port early Sunday.

The Carnival Magic returned to Galveston, Texas, shortly after 6 a.m. EDT.

Company and federal officials have said the woman being monitored for Ebola poses no risk because she has shown no symptoms and has voluntarily self-quarantined.

Petty Officer Andy Kendrick told The Associated Press that a Coast Guard crew flew in a helicopter Saturday to meet the Carnival Magic and retrieved a blood sample from the woman. He said the blood sample was taken to a state lab in Austin for processing.

Kendrick had no further details about how the sample was taken. He said the decision to take the sample was made in coordination with the federal, state and local health authorities.

Obama administration officials said the passenger handled a lab specimen from a Liberian man who died from Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital earlier this month. Officials said the woman poses no risk because she has shown no signs of illness for 19 days and has voluntarily self-quarantined on the cruise ship.

U.S. officials had been seeking ways to return the woman and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise on Sunday.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that when the woman left the U.S. on the cruise ship from Galveston, Texas, on Oct. 12 health officials were requiring only self-monitoring.

Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement that the woman, a lab supervisor, remained in isolation "and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew."

"We are in close contact with the CDC, and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board," the statement said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The ship was refused clearance to dock in Cozumel, Mexico on Friday, a day after Belize refused to let the passenger leave the vessel.

A spokeswoman for the cruise line, Jennifer De La Cruz, said that when the Magic made a port call in Belize, other passengers were allowed to disembark with the exception of the health care worker and her spouse.

There have been no restrictions placed on other passengers aboard the ship, officials said.

The cruise line said Friday that after not receiving clearance, the ship left Cozumel waters shortly after noon Friday with the goal of returning to its home port of Galveston on Sunday morning as originally scheduled.


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