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Coast Guard says cruise ships must stay at sea with sick onboard

2 Holland America ships sailing toward Florida
Cruise ship with 42 people experiencing flu-like symptoms headed to Florida
Posted at 9:49 AM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 13:30:39-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has directed all cruise ships to prepare to treat any sick passengers and crew on board while being sequestered “indefinitely" offshore during the coronavirus pandemic.

MORE: Latest news on the coronavirus

The new rules require daily updates on each ship's caseload.

They also come with a stiff warning: Any foreign-flagged vessels “that loiter beyond U.S. territorial seas" should try first to medically evacuate the very sick to the countries where they are registered.

Many of South Florida's cruise ships are registered in the Bahamas.

The Coast Guard says shore-side facilities are stressed and patients may be more comfortable being treated onboard.

Meantime, two Holland America cruise ships are sailing toward Florida after being stranded at sea.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state's healthcare system is stretched too thin to take on their sick passengers.