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#496907 - 10/17/14 10:49 AM Suspected Ebola passenger never set foot in Belize
Marty Offline

Carnival Cruise Passengers Flagged For Ebola

There is a major developing story in the Belize harbor this evening - and it is that two cruise ship passengers who have been flagged as possible Ebola cases - are on a boat tender trying to come into Belize City tonight for movement to the PGIA where an air ambulance is reportedly waiting. But, our information says Belizean authorities are currently refusing them entry to Belize so that they can get to the airport. Those authorities are asking that they be sent back to the cruise ship. That's where it is at this hour - and there is no official information - though we have been trying to reach multiple senior persons in the ministry of health. The tender reportedly remains in the harbor - between the cruise ship and Belize City - with US authorities seeking assistance of Belizean authorities to grant them passage. It is reportedly a couple. Again, no confirmation at this hour but more than one credible report.

We'll keep following this and have more tomorrow...


Channel 7

GOB says suspected Ebola cruise passenger never set foot in Belize

Prime Minister Dean Barrow is scheduled to address the Belizean people via a press conference on Friday in the wake of a situation involving a cruise ship passenger potentially infected Ebola.

A government statement issued late Thursday night says that “the government of Belize was contacted by officers of the US government and made aware of a cruise ship passenger considered of very low risk for Ebola.”

The Belize government statement said that the cruise ship passenger had “voluntarily entered quarantine on board the ship and remains free of any fever or other symptoms of the illness.”

While rumours ran wild in social media earlier on Thursday night, the government release made clear that “out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a US request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Philip Goldson International Airport.”

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos on the Patrick Jones website

#496909 - 10/17/14 11:04 AM Re: Suspected Ebola passenger never set foot in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Ebola scare on Caribbean cruise ship: Woman quarantined in her cabin after coming into contact with infected specimen from ‘patient zero’ at Texas hospital

A healthcare worker is in quarantine aboard a Caribbean cruise ship after it was revealed she handled a lab specimen from America's Ebola 'patient zero'.

The woman, who is an employee of the Texas Presbyterian Hospital, has agree to remain isolated while on the vessel and is is being monitored for any signs of infection.

Although she did not come into direct contact with Thomas Eric Duncan - the Ebola-infected man who died of the disease - she may have had contact with clinical specimens collected from him.

Obama administration officials say that 'out of an abundance of caution' the State Department is working with a country they will not identify to secure their transportation home.

It has also been revealed that Belize is refusing to allow the ship or any of its thousands of passengers into port due to fears over Ebola. Local Belizean news reports stated that the Carnival Cruise ship Magic has been kept offshore after the government learned that one of the passengers may have been in contact with the deadly virus.

A government statement said it was acting out of an 'abundance of caution' after being contacted by officers of the US Government and made aware of a cruise ship passenger considered of very low risk for Ebola.

It said the US Government had emphasized the very low risk category in this case, but added: 'Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a US request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Phillip Goldson International Airport.'

A physician aboard the cruise ship had said the passenger in quarantine was in good health and has shown no symptoms of the deadly disease.

It has been 19 days since the woman may have processed samples of fluids from Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, who died from the deadly disease on October 8 after contracting the virus in Liberia.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the incubation period - the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms - of Ebola is 2 to 21 days.

Caribbean countries have been among the first to close their borders to travelers from Ebola hotspots, with four nations laying down bans.

Jamaica has joined Colombia, Guyana and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia as countries denying entry to travelers who recently visited the Ebola-affected nations.

Jamaica's travel ban extends to 'persons ordinarily resident in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as persons who have traveled to or transited through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, within 28 days of having departed from these countries,' the government said. The U.S. government has said it is working to return the healthcare worker aboard to cruise ship and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise.

'The employee did not have direct contact' with Mr Duncan, a State Department statement said, 'but may have had contact with clinical specimens collected from him'.

'The individual was out of the country before being notified of the CDC's (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) updated requirements for active monitoring,' her statement said.

'At the time the hospital employee left the country, CDC was requiring only self-monitoring.'

Two nurses who were treating Mr Duncan have also been diagnosed with Ebola.

But both Nina Pham and Amber Vinson are thought to be in stable condition after treatment for the deadly virus.

The latest statistics from WHO show that the worst-ever Ebola epidemic has already claimed nearly 4,500 lives, with the vast majority of the fatalities in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The deadly virus has also reached Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the United States but outbreaks have been contained so far.

Ebola is spread through close contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen. Those fluids must have an entry point, like a cut or scrape or someone touching the nose, mouth or eyes with contaminated hands, or being splashed. For this reason healthcare workers wear protective gloves, fully-body suits and masks.

WHO says blood, feces and vomit are the most infectious fluids, while the virus is found in saliva mostly once patients are severely ill and the whole live virus has never been culled from sweat.


#496943 - 10/17/14 06:19 PM Re: Suspected Ebola passenger never set foot in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Government of Belize, at about 10:43 tonight, issued a press release confirming information received by Amandala earlier this evening that a female passenger aboard a cruise ship, Carnival Magic, may have had contact with the Ebola virus, and the American government had sent an air bus to transport her out of Belize and back to the US.

The woman, a lab technician, reportedly was one of about 70 workers who came in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who traveled from Liberia to the United States infected with the Ebola virus, and died at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday at 7:51 a.m. after he was treated with an experimental drug.

Amandala was told that the woman was accompanied on the cruise ship by her husband.

Reports to us are that the woman and her husband were put in quarantine aboard the ship, which was anchored in the Belize City Harbour. It is not known how the woman was allowed to leave the US, in light of the possibility that she may have been exhibiting symptoms of the Ebola virus.

The American air ambulance landed at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) between 7:00 and 8:00 tonight, Thursday.

Some reports say that no one came off the ship, Carnival Magic, one of Carnival Cruise’s dream line ships that were constructed in 2011, but credible reports to us are that a number of passengers did leave the ship for prearranged tours in Belize.

The unofficial reports Amandala has received all say, however, that the woman and her husband did not leave the ship, which was scheduled to leave our harbour at 4:00 p.m. today.

Credible reports reaching us tonight are that Prime Minister Dean Barrow was put under severe pressure by the US to allow the couple to be taken off the cruise ship and transported to the PGIA to board the waiting air ambulance.

The Prime Minister, we understand, held his ground and refused to allow the couple to leave the ship, and the plane, at about 9:00 tonight, left the PGIA without the two Americans. It is not known whether the other passengers on the ship knew that the two passengers were under surveillance by US medical authorities.

In any case, PM Barrow, we were told, ordered the ship to leave Belizean waters “within the hour,” which would be at about 9:00 p.m., about the same time the US plane was leaving empty at the PGIA.

GOB’s release of tonight said that “The Government of Belize was contacted today by officers of the US Government and made aware of a cruise ship passenger considered a very low risk for Ebola. The passenger had voluntarily entered quarantine on board the ship and remains free of any fever or other symptoms of illness. The Ebola virus may only be spread by patients who are experiencing fever and symptoms of illness and so the US Government had emphasized the very low risk category in this case.

“Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a US request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Philip Goldson International Airport.

The GOB reassures the public that the passenger never set foot in Belize.”

The cruise ship left Texas, according to an online schedule, on Sunday, and the itinerary included a stop in Cozumel, Mexico, before it headed to Belize.


Passengers On Board Carnival Magic Disembark In Belize

The officials at today’s Press Conference stressed that the persons at the center of yesterday’s series of events were low risk and that none were showing symptoms of the Ebola virus, which is believed to be when it becomes contagious. Despite them repeating that point, it is hard to ignore the urgency in which the US handled the matter. Another factor here is that by the time the Office of the Prime Minister was informed of the situation, other passengers had disembarked the ship.

Audrey Wallace – CEO, Office of Prime Minister

“The government of Belize did not find out about this until after the disembarkation of those passengers so we were not able to respond to that aspect.”

So, does this give another reason for concern? PM Barrow says not necessarily.

Honorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“We had to take a particular position on a particular issue but that doesn’t vitiate the cooperation that we are a part of and that the United States is not just a part of but is clearly the leader of. So if something were to happen that would then make it possible for us to try, difficult though it might be, to track those with whom passengers may have come in contact with. We will know the United States might have tell us but in any event such a thing would make news so we would know. In the meantime I don’t see how or what point it would serve to try to find out exactly whom those passengers may have come in contact with. I don’t know if the health people see it any differently.”


#496967 - 10/18/14 11:04 AM Re: Suspected Ebola passenger never set foot in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Belize Refused Carnival Passengers With Ebola Concerns

When we left you last night - there was anxiety all across Belize - because a Carnival cruise ship had two passengers on board that were considered Ebola risks. Initial reports said they were on a tender awaiting permission to enter the tourism village for a connection to the Phillip Goldson International where an air ambulance was waiting.

Well a whole lot has happened since then - and much more is known.

But, to cut immediately to the chase: they were not on a tender, did not leave the ship, and did not have Ebola. CEO in the Office of the Prime Minister Audrey Wallace was the first line of contact with the US state Department on the super sensitive issue, and she explained the status of the two passengers at a press conference today:

Audrey Wallace, CEO - PM's Office
"That we are not dealing with an Ebola patient. The passenger in question is a healthcare provider who works at the Presbyterian Hospital which treated an Ebola patient. The passenger had no signs or symptoms of illness. Now the passenger in question had voluntarily entered quarantine on the ship and has not been allowed to step foot in Belize."

PM Barrow Turned Down Secretary of State Kerry’s Ebola Request

So, they never set foot in Belize - but the US State Department tried mightily to get them to pass through here - meaning that the Prime Minister had to hold firm - as the requests kept coming from higher and higher offices in the state department - culminating in US Secretary of State John Kerry.

A timeline we've put together shows that the first request came at 9:40 am - after 3762 cruise tourists had already disembarked and gone about their tourism business all across Belize. From there the requests continued right through until 8:30 pm - a full eleven hours of back and forth proposals and counter proposals - culminating in a final, firm "no" to the request.

We caught unto the story at about 7:15pm - and Jules Vasquez picked up the action there at the old Customs Wharf - near the tourism village:

Jules Vasquez reporting
This is the Carnival Magic - eight miles out of Belize City last night - with more than four thousand passengers on board. At 7:45 pm, Deputy Commander of the Eastern Division Sr. Superintendent Alford Grinage stood a solitary vigil near the Baron Bliss Lighthouse - waiting for further orders - Because at that time, no final decision had been made - the Prime Minister was discussing possibilities with the US Secretary of State.

This is one of the immigration officers assigned to work the ship, looking out unto the horizon at the ship - the lights in the background. And this is the Coast Guard vessel coming into tourism village for the passports. It was 8:00 pm, the order had come down; they would be returned.

The immigration officer called the shipping agent to bring down the passports which were kept in a plastic bag - while the coast guard got in position. The passports were handed over and the coast guard vessel took them back to the cruise ship on the order that they were to escort the cruise ship out of Belizean waters.

An hour later, at 9:00 pm, the ship - shadowed by the coast guard - started to turn - to head out of Belizean waters - north for Mexico. By 10:30, it had crossed the English Caye Chanel and was out of Belizean waters. Just a spot on the horizon - where minutes earlier it had loomed at the epicenter of national consciousness.

But what we became aware of at 7:30 pm, had been unfolding at the highest level from 9:40 am when the US Embassy set up a call with Wallace and the US State Department to get these two Texans off the ship:

Audrey Wallace, CEO - PM's Office
"I was informed that a healthcare worker from the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who was listed as low risk for Ebola by the Center for Disease Control in the United States was onboard a Carnival Cruise ship that landed in Belize in the morning. They explained that the CDC had updated its requirements from self-monitoring for these low risks persons to active monitoring which would require them to be in the United States to be monitored. They explained that the employee had been checking daily for a temperature or any other symptoms of the disease and had none. The doctors on the cruise ship examined her and confirmed that she had no temperature or any other sign of symptoms. The healthcare worker along with her traveling companion agree to self-quarantine on the ship. I was further advised that it was 17 days since the worker would have possible been exposed to Ebola virus. According to the CDC, the maximum incubation period for the disease is 21 days. I was then ask for the government to allow the passenger and her companion to disembark and flown out of the PGIA on a private plane."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"The suggestion had been that the coast guard would take a vessel out to the cruise ship, disembark the passengers, take them to a landing point at Vista Del Mar and then an ambulance which would have the sort of driving compartments sealed off from the hole or from the carrying area would take the passengers to PGIA where they would be put on this medevac plane and taken to the US."

But the Prime Minister balked at that:

Audrey Wallace, CEO - PM's Office
"Immediately he expressed deep concern over facilitating the movement of the two passengers from the cruise ship to the PGIA. Although fully aware that the disease can be spread only when an Ebola patient is sick. He was most concern about exposing any Belizean to any potential risk no matter how far fetch it may be."

So the State Department tried another strategy:

Audrey Wallace, CEO - PM's Office
"At about 1pm the USEmbassy advise the Office of the Prime Minister that they had some delays with the plane which would not be able in any case to come to Belize until the following day Friday. The US was asking for the two passengers to be disembarked and held in quarantine in Belize terrestrial soil until Friday morning when the plane would medevac them to the US. When informed, the Prime Minister immediately said no to that request being of the view that it would assuredly exposed at least Belizean healthcare workers and security personnel to some risks."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"In that kind of context as I said once the ground had shifted to the extent where they were now talking about a next day operation and keeping the people on Belizean soil, it seemed to me that axiomatically my answer had to be no."

Audrey Wallace, CEO - PM's Office
"Shortly after 4pm US Embassy called again to say that notwithstanding the Prime Minister's decision an evacuation flight had been arrange and the plane will be leaving the US for Belize. The government's position was reiterated and the embassy told that no transfer would be facilitated and the plane should not take off from the States or if it had already taken off, it should turn back. About an hour later I received a call from the US Assistant Secretary of State, bureau of the western hemisphere - the assistant secretary informed me that the flight was on its way and would be landing in an hour. I reiterated that the government was adamant that no evacuation from Belize through PGIA would be accommodated. I was there after informed that the US Secretary of State, John Kerry would be seeking to speak to the Prime Minister."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"The request then became for us to disembark the passengers and find some quarantine area in which to hold them overnight until they could be transported to the States the following day. I won't get into the details, but very clearly the logistics of such an operation in my view would have exposed Belizean health workers, Belizean security agents, Belizean front line officials. It is clear that even in the US with all their capacity, with all their expertise there are still a lot of unanswered questions as to how this thing gets transmitted."

That's when the State Department brought in their most senior official:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I set out for him our own position. He insisted that there really was no threat and that, I would not be putting Belizeans at any real risk. I stuck to my line which was that in the circumstances we couldn't take any chance. He did ask whether I would consider whether I would agree explore the possibility of they sending a helicopter that would land on the deck of the cruise ship and then take the 2 passengers straight across to the PGIA. If it had been at all possible to do this thing in a way that could absolutely have eliminated any possibility of any risks to Belizeans - I would have been willing. The fact is after the most anxious consideration I concluded that the original positon had to stand because it could not in the circumstances be possible to do what the Americans were asking without exposing some Belizeans to some degree of risks."

"I instructed her to say to the US Embassy it's absolutely not on. My decision stands. It is final, nobody need try to get in touch with me because wanting to be rude, I cannot entertain any further appeals. This is it. Any possibility of any such transfer operation is off, the plane must go back and the ship. If there had been any way to safely, and that's what I need to stress, to safely accommodate the request of the US Government, I clearly would have been so disposed."

And thus ended a night of concern for so many Belizeans who are understandably terrified about the virus landing in Belize. But will the cold shoulder send Belize US relations into a deep freeze?:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I hope and think that the United States and certainly Secretary Kerry are mature enough to recognize that ultimately even small states and perhaps especially small states must act in what they consider their best interest and so while they might not have been pleased with the decision, I expect that they will respect our position."

Passport Handlers Were Cautious

So, to make it clear again: the passengers of interest - a 59 year old female lab supervisor from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospitaland her male partner a 60 year old, did not disembark in Belize, and they did not leave the quarantine area in the ship, and they are not presently showing any signs of having Ebola - but this will not be known for sure until the next four days or so - when the 21 day incubation period ends. She is on her 19th day since she was exposed and she is showing no symptoms.

But then, there's public concern that maybe the nearly 3,800 cruise visitors from the Carnival Magic who did come unto land could have been infected on the ship and could be carrying the virus, and could have spread it to those Belizeans they came in contact with.

Again, not a possibility. All the information on Ebola shows it is not contagious during the incubation period. It is only contagious when the symptoms are present. Second, it is not an airborne virus like the flu; it had to be transmitted by bodily fluids.

Still, there are concerns: first for the boarding party and the pilot. First, the boarding party is the crew of immigration officials who have to go on board each cruise ship and review the manifests. Second, the pilot is the Belizean port authority employee who actually steers to ship into port, past the English Caye Channel. Well, those persons are being monitored by the Ministry of Health in Belize - but again, they would not have come in contact with any bodily fluids from any infected persons, and, we stress again, the two passengers of interest, are not known to be infected.

Ok, so then what about the immigration staffers who handled the passports? Well, the passport came in a plastic bag - and today at the press conference, the Director of Immigration outlined the procedure she had specified:..

Maria Marin, Director of Immigration
"The officers were given specific instructions that when the shipping agent handed over those passports, that it was to be placed by the shipping agent in a plastic bag or container and that the shipping agent was the one that was going to pass in on to the Coast Guard officers and it was confirmed to me that my officers did follow that procedure."

What Are Streets Saying On Ebola

At the top of the news tonight we told you all about last night's Ebola scare - but what are Belizeans saying about it ? Are they properly informed ? Well the general facts vary but when I hit the streets today I found one common sentiment among the public and that's doubt in our health system's readiness and responsiveness:

For clarity the disease is not air borne like the flu virus. It is transmitted through contact with blood and bodily fluids of the infected persons who are showing symptoms.

Channel 7

Belize's Ebola Scare Prompts Press Conference

#497012 - 10/19/14 09:53 AM Re: Suspected Ebola passenger never set foot in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Read this for an overview of what is was like on the Ebola Cruise - from those who are there:

It was supposed to be an escape to the Caribbean sunshine for a week of partying, relaxation, and sipping champagne while watching gorgeous sunsets from the decks of a luxury cruise ship.

But four days after the Carnival Magic set sail from Galveston, Texas rumours began swirling that all was not well on board.

The ship, complete with a swimming pool, an array of water slides, and a giant cinema screen, inexplicably stopped off the coast of Belize and the whispers began.

"The rumours were going round - we were stuck in the mud. Someone's been kidnapped," said one passenger.

As the theories got wilder over the clink of cocktail glasses at the bar, no-one imagined they were actually about to be at the centre of an international Ebola scare.

Finally, the captain confirmed on the loudspeaker that, among their number, was a woman who worked as a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

She had processed clinical samples from Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Mr Duncan, 42, died on Oct 8, four days before the ship sailed.

The lab supervisor, and her husband, were voluntarily quarantined in their cabin as fear spread on the ship, which is due to arrive back in Galveston on Sunday.

Passenger Jon Malone said there was "utter panic" on board, adding: "People are scared. I've seen people crying. You're using the same buffet line as someone else, the same waiters, the folks that clean the state rooms.

"If someone was cleaning their state room and cleaned yours right after, the exposure that you have there to elevators...it's very tight quarters and a lot of interaction.

"It's really difficult to control any type of virus that's on a cruise ship. It's like a floating petri dish. It spreads very rapidly. They're cleaning elevators. I've seen people with pink liquid cleaning the bar area and the handrails."

His brother Jeremy Malone said: "You see a ton of people that are crying, and then there are folks that are having a drink."

Outside his room on the 11th floor Jeremy Malone saw up to 40 workers with cleaning fluids and wearing masks.

He said: "There was a lot of folks who clean the state rooms with buckets and chemicals and people in masks were running around the ship."

As word of an Ebola scare spread so many passengers tried to call home that all they could get on mobile devices was a busy signal, and the internet crashed.

One passenger, who gave his name as Michael, was able to get through to CNN by telephone. He said: "Obviously our concern is where is this person is on the ship and what kind of set up do they have to care for them? I can't imagine it's a completely quarantined area. They have not told us at all where the person is.

"My wife has medication for a kidney transplant, she's susceptible to getting something a little easier than the rest of us, and we don't know where this person has been on the ship."

The passenger said he first realised something was wrong when he looked on a map of the ship's course on his television.

He said: "We were supposed to put into a port and I noticed that we were pulling away from the port. The captain finally came on and said we couldn't get permission to port.

"That's when everything hit the fan here and we realised we were quarantined.

"There were all kind of rumours. They never really said Ebola, they said 'symptoms,' they kept it somewhat vague but everyone knew what they were talking about."

The lab supervisor boarded the Carnival Magic, which carries 3,690 passengers and up to 1,367 crew, in Galveston, on Oct 12.

She had not been placed under any travel restrictions by the hospital, or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both have been criticised for not telling health workers who had contact with Mr Duncan to stay home.

The woman on the ship was only required to self-monitor her temperature daily to see if she had developed a fever.

After seeing news reports about two nurses who worked at the hospital - Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29 - being diagnosed with Ebola she decided to report herself to the captain, and self-quarantine by staying inside her cabin.

The ship then applied to go drop her off in a port in Belize so she could be flown back to Texas, but the Belize govenment refused.

Dean Barrow, the country's prime minister, refused a personal appeal from US Secretary of State John Kerry to send a helicopter to pick her up from the Carnival Magic and take her to a plane waiting at an airport in Belize.

Mr Barrow said: "It is clear, even in the US with all their capacity, with all their expertise, there are still a lot of unanswered questions as to how this thing gets transmitted. Their response, their approach, their treatment of the issue, seems to be a work in progress."

In a statement his government said: "The passenger never set foot in Belize. When even the smallest doubt remains, we will ensure the health and safety of the Belizean people."

Asked about Belize's refusal to accept the passenger, a US State Department spokeswoman said: "We think it could probably have been handled differently."

The Carnival Magic then sailed on to Mexico where it had been scheduled to dock int he port of Cozumel. it was hoped the woman could be airlifted from there, but again it was not allowed into port.

"I'm on the Carnival ship with the Ebola scare. Mexican authorities not allowing us into Cozumel. Heading back to Galveston," Eric Lupher, a passenger who works as a reporter for ABC7 in Denver, Colorado, said in a post on Twitter.

Mr Lupher described how fear began spreading among the passengers on Thursday night.

He said: "We were about five miles off the shore of Belize just sitting in the boat in the ocean, not knowing what was going on. The boat wasn't moving. It was like that for several hours. Then we started moving in the middle of the night.

"More than 12 hours later we were told this person was on the ship. The captain came on the loudspeaker and told us what was going on. He never said the word Ebola, but everyone knew. On the elevators, people were talking about it. And a lot of people were upset about it."

Up to that point, he said, "the party just kind of kept going. The pools were open, the slides were open, people were still eating at the buffet, touching areas that everybody touches. There's a lot of concern over communication."

Mr Lupher said the issue that most worried passengers was how they would be treated when they arrive in port in Texas.

He said: "There is a lot of concern over what's going to happen when we get back to Galveston. It's our understanding we're just going to get off the boat and go home - but is that really going to happen?"

Mr Lupher posted a photograph on Twitter of people still lining up for food on the ship. He said: "Despite Ebola scare...people still eating at the buffet."

Another passenger, a teenage girl called Delaney, joked on social media that the Carnival Magic was "stuck in mud". She said: Nothing like Mexico not even letting us on land. At least I have chocolate cake and Dr Pepper..."

Carnival Cruise Lines distributed a letter to passengers telling them: "At this time the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew.

"It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution."

The maximum incubation period for Ebola is 21 days and it has been very nearly that long since the woman handled Mr Duncan's samples, showing no symptoms, so it is likely she is out of danger.

Carnival offered compensation of $200 per passenger to those on board, and a 50 per cent discount on future cruises, as an apology for missing the Mexican stop.

A spokesman said: "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."

The US State Department said it was working with the cruise line to "safely bring them back to the United States out of an abundance of caution."

More than 4,500 people have died so far in the world's largest ever outbreak of Ebola in West Africa

The World Health Organisation has warned that the infection rate could reach 10,000 a week by early December.

Rachelle Cohorn, a medical worker, said: "It feels like a ghost town.No one is even walking around the hospital."

US President Barack Obama warned against panic as the country was swept by a series of false alarms.

Those included one at the Pentagon where an entrance was closed and Ebola precautions enacted after a woman was sick in a car park. No evidence was found that she was suffering from Ebola.

In his weekly address to the American people Mr Obama said: "What we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America. This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear."

Mr Obama also said he would not be introducing a ban on air travel into the US from West Africa, despite many calls to do so.

He said: "Trying to seal off an entire region of the world, if that were even possible, could actually make the situation worse.

"Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track."

-- The Telegraph


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