At least 17 cases of Covid virus have been detected among crew members and passengers on the Norwegian Cruise Line ship, including one probable infection with the omicron variant, the Louisiana health department confirmed.
The Norwegian ship with more than 3200 people on board docked in New Orleans, Louisiana — the state with one of the nation’s lowest immunisation rates against the coronavirus.
The ship had ten people aboard who tested positive for the virus on Saturday before disembarking in New Orleans.
But on Sunday, the state’s health department said: “7 additional Covid-19 cases have been identified on a Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) cruise ship that disembarked in New Orleans today. This brings the total number of Covid-19 cases identified among the passengers and crew members to 17.”
A probable case of omicron was among the 10 cases that were first confirmed by the health department.
“The crew member is not a Louisiana resident and did not leave the ship,” the health department added.
A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement to Reuters: "At this time, there have been no changes to scheduled future sailings on Norwegian Breakaway.”
The cruise ship departed New Orleans on a week-long cruise on 28 November and had stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico, the health agency said.
The likely case of omicron will bring the number of omicron variant infection to two as the Louisiana health department confirmed its first case of the highly mutated variant on sunday.
"We now know omicron is here in Louisiana. This is cause for concern, but not panic," State Health Officer Joe Kanter said in a statement about state’s first omicron case.
"We have been expecting and preparing for this moment. To all Louisianans, the single best action you can take to protect yourselves and your families is to get yourself and loved ones vaccinated and boosted if eligible."
About 49 per cent, one of the lowest, of total population has been fully vaccinated.
It comes after cases of omicron were discovered in 16 states across the country, from Hawaii through Colorado to Massachusetts, suggesting that its spread is now unlikely to be contained.
Chief White House medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci told CNN on Sunday that “thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it”, but warned that it was too early to draw conclusions.
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