Coronavirus-hit cruise ship shouldn't come to Florida without plan to prevent spread: official

The Zaandam, which is carrying Americans, has reported four deaths

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The Holland America cruise ship with at least two confirmed coronavirus cases that just received permission to pass through the Panama Canal should not come to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, without a plan to prevent spread, Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine told FOX Business.

"The cruise ship company is going to have to come up with a plan as far as transporting passengers … protective personal gear and the like, so I'm reviewing all that right now," Udine said on Sunday.

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He is one of eight county commissioners. Broward County has reported 820 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths.

Udine had previously said he wanted to "make a motion that we deny entry under unified command of that ship" at a meeting on Tuesday, Local 10 reported.

Passengers board a lifeboat from Holland America Line cruise ship MS Zaandam to be transported to her sister ship Rotterdam (R) on Panama Bay, Panama during a coronavirus disease outbreak on Saturday. (Panama Maritime Authority/Handout via REUTERS)

"I personally understand the humanitarian issue here," Udine said on Sunday. "These people are stuck at sea. We're being told mitigate and social distance. The health system is crowded, and we need to be sure we have this properly planned out."

The Panama government will allow Holland America's Zaandam cruise ship to pass through the Panama Canal after Chilean officials refused to let the ship into port earlier in March.

"We greatly appreciate this consideration in the humanitarian interest of our guests and crew," the cruise line said in a statement on Saturday. "This remains a dynamic situation, and we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities to finalize details."

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Two Holland America ships, the Zaandam and the Rotterdam, received permission to pass through the canal. The Zaandam, which is carrying Americans, has reported four deaths among "older passengers" but did not confirm whether the deaths were coronavirus-related. The Rotterdam met up with the Zaandam to offload healthy guests.

Holland America is owned by Carnival Corporation.

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More than 180 Zaandam passengers were reporting flu-like symptoms as of Friday.

Meanwhile, Miami-based Royal Caribbean cruise line is responding to concern after the Miami Herald reported that 14 people on board its ship the Oasis of the Seas tested positive for coronavirus after the ship made port in Miami.

"The health and well-being of our crew is our foremost priority. Crewmembers who exhibited symptoms were evaluated by our medical staff and remain under close supervision," Royal Caribbean said in a statement. "In accordance with our health and safety protocols, our crew have been asked to self-isolate in cabins while we await confirmation of initial results from public health authorities."

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