Coral Princess passenger in isolation at KEMH
A passenger on a dream cruise that turned into a Covid-19 nightmare who returned to Bermuda has contracted the disease, The Royal Gazette can reveal.
The 78-year-old man was admitted to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital last Thursday, the day after a 22-strong group of Bermudians who had been stranded on the Coral Princess cruise flew home from Miami, Florida.
The Covid-19 victim was transferred to intensive care from a general ward after his condition deteriorated, but is now “stable” on an isolation ward.
A family member, who asked not to be identified, said: “I spoke to him last Tuesday, when he was still confined to his cabin in Florida, and he was down then. He wasn't his usual jolly sort of self, but being confined in a cabin would drive me crazy, too.
“When they got here, they put him in quarantine, so he made a virtual call with his doctor and his doctor decided that he had pneumonia and dispatched an ambulance from the King Edward.
“This is how he got into hospital, complaining and being diagnosed over the phone by his doctor, then the next day they put him in the Intensive Care Unit.
“He spent one night in ICU, but is now back on an isolation ward and not on any ventilator.”
The family member added: “When he first went in, he was on oxygen and then, when he went to ICU, he was still on oxygen.
“I don't know whether he's on oxygen now. But they say he is in stable condition and is eating and doing normal things, and his spirits have come up.”
The married father of three was flown back to the island and escorted, along with other passengers, from the Bermudian-registered ship to a quarantine centre for a mandatory 14 days' isolation.
Several other people on board the Coral Princess contracted Covid-19 and three died as a result.
Two people died on board as the ship approached Florida and another passenger died at a Miami hospital after an hours-long wait to be transported ashore.
The Coral Princess set sail from Santiago, Chile, on March 5 for a 32-day cruise around South America and the Caribbean.
The ship got as far as the Falkland Islands, but was denied entry to other ports because of the pandemic, including its final destination in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Passengers were then confined to their cabins for seven days after some showed “flu-like symptoms”.
The ship visited Bridgetown, Barbados, on March 31, but no one was allowed ashore.
Samples were sent for tests while the vessel was in port.
It was later reported that 12 people on the ship had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The sick man's relative said: “They did a temperature test and this was when they found the 12 people on the ship tested positive and they were confined to a room.
“The worst thing is, some crew members had it as well, so if the crew members had got it, they're going to be spreading it.”
There were 34 Bermudians on the ship at first, but 12 managed to catch a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
They travelled to the airport in a bus escorted by police, after the ship was granted permission by Argentine authorities to enter port.
The rest missed another flight because of a delay in the return of the bus to the ship to pick up the remainder and were stranded on board.
An unsuccessful attempt to disembark passengers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was also made.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the $45 billion-a-year cruise industry.
The Coral Princess's sister ship on the Princess Cruises line, Diamond Princess, was earlier quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, after hundreds of passengers came down with Covid-19.
At least ten people who were on board have since died.
Passengers on other ships have had their trips cancelled or altered and operators such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean International have warned that the crisis will have a serious effect on their business.