Cruise liner approved to dock in Florida after staff tested for coronavirus

Cruise liner approved to dock in Florida after staff tested for coronavirus
© getty YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 05: The Diamond Princess cruise ship with around 3,700 people on board sits anchored in quarantine off the port of Yokohama

A Regal Princess cruise liner was approved to dock in Florida on Sunday after two crew members were tested for possible coronavirus infection.

The Florida Sun Sentinel reported Sunday evening that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials had announced around 6:30 p.m. that the two crew members had tested negative, allowing hundreds of passengers and fellow crew to disembark after hours of waiting on board.

The ship had originally been scheduled to dock at Port Everglades Sunday morning, but idled along Florida's coast as the tests were conducted, according to the newspaper.

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“The federal government has the lead on that,” Port Everglades acting Director Glenn Wiltshire told the newspaper. “The samples were collected and brought ashore earlier today. The test is carried out at a state health department lab."

"The turnaround times are usually 24 to 48 hours," he added. "But they recognize the urgency of turning these tests around and doing them as fast as they can.”

The ship's captain, Tim Stringer, apologized to passengers over the issue in a statement obtained by the Sun-Sentinel.

“We sincerely regret any inconvenience this has caused and appreciate your understanding and patience given the circumstances,” he wrote. “My officers and crew look forward to serving you for the remainder of our time together, and wish you safe homeward travels.”

In a statement obtained by The Associated Press, Regal Princess officials claimed that the two crew members in question had not exhibited respiratory symptoms, and as a result "should not pose any risks to the health and welfare of anyone aboard Regal Princess.”