Jim Kuhnhenn, ABC News, October 17, 2014
A cruise ship with a Dallas health care worker aboard who is being monitored for signs of Ebola did not receive clearance to dock in Cozumel, Mexico, a day after Belize refused to let the passenger leave the vessel.
Obama administration officials said the passenger handled a lab specimen from a Liberian man who died from Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital earlier this month. Officials said the woman poses no risk because she has shown no signs of illness for 19 days and has voluntarily self-quarantined on the cruise ship, the Carnival Magic.
The cruise line said Friday that after not receiving clearance, the ship left Cozumel waters shortly after noon Friday with the goal of returning to its home port of Galveston Sunday morning as originally scheduled.
The Carnival Magic had also stopped in Belize but officials there would not allow the passenger to leave the vessel. In a statement, the Belize government said it had refused a U.S. government request to fly the woman home through the Belize City airport. Other passengers were allowed to disembark there.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the government of Belize decided not to facilitate a U.S. request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Philip Goldson International Airport,” the government’s statement said.
U.S. officials had been seeking ways to return the woman and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise on Sunday.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that when the woman left the U.S. on the cruise ship from Galveston, Texas, on Oct. 12 health officials were requiring only self-monitoring.