Friday, October 17, 2014

Mexico fails to grant access to cruise ship carrying Texas Ebola health worker

By Lindsey Bever, Fred Barbash and Elahe Izadi October 17 at 2:35 PM

The Carnival Magic cruise ship departs on its nine-day inaugural cruise from Dubrovnik, Croatia, in a May 3, 2011 file photo. (Reuters/Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines)

Updated and corrected

The cruise ship carrying a Texas health-care worker who “may have” handled lab specimens from Dallas Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan is headed back to the United States after Mexican authorities failed to grant permission for the ship to dock off the coast of Cozumel, according to a Carnival spokeswoman.

The Carnival Magic had been waiting off the Mexican coast since Friday morning for its scheduled port visit. Mexican authorities still hadn’t given clearance by noon, so the ship continued to its home port of Galveston, Tex., where it was due back on Sunday, according to Carnival.

The health worker, a lab supervisor who has not been named, has shown no symptoms of the disease but remains on board and in voluntary isolation, according to Carnival. “We greatly regret that this situation, which was completely beyond our control, precluded the ship from making its scheduled visit to Cozumel and the resulting disappointment it has caused our guests,” read a statement from Carnival.

The number of people being monitored for symptoms of Ebola in the U.S. is growing. Here's how the virus spreads and how contact tracing works to stop outbreaks. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital employee and a partner boarded the ship Oct. 12 in Galveston before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the requirement for active monitoring, the U.S. State Department said in a statement. Although the worker is healthy, the U.S. government had said it was working with the cruise line to get the ship back to America “out of an abundance of caution.”