Passengers on cruise ship docked near New York City will be assessed for coronavirus, CDC official says

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(CNN) – Passengers on a cruise ship that docked Friday morning near New York City will be assessed in port for the coronavirus, an official with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with knowledge of the situation tells CNN.

“There are folks on the ship that have a history of travel to China and so CDC and local health officials are going to board the ship when it docks to do an assessment in port for coronavirus,” the source said.

Ambulances and stretchers were positioned Friday near The Anthem of the Seas at the port at Bayonne — a New Jersey city just south of Manhattan — and personnel were boarding the ship, aerial video from CNN affiliates in New York shows.

“I have been briefed on the (Royal Caribbean) cruise ship arriving this morning,” Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis tweeted. “I am certain that the NJ DoH, CDC, and PA NY/NJ are prepared and equipped to address any concerns this morning.”

CNN has reached out to New Jersey health officials and the governor’s office.

Cruise operator Royal Caribbean is “closely monitoring developments regarding coronavirus and have rigorous medical protocols in place onboard our ships,” it said in a statement.

“Like airlines, we are participating in elevated levels of guest screening to check the spread of coronavirus,” the cruise line said. “We continue to work in close consultation with the CDC, the WHO, and local health authorities to align with their guidance and ensure the health and wellbeing of our guests and crew.”

Passenger had ‘no idea’ about health assessments

Passengers have been on the ship for 12 days, traveling to San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. John, St. Kitts and Antigua. They were set to disembark Friday morning.

“We had no idea (about the health assessments) till we saw on (local) TV in cabin this morning,” passenger Don Silberman said. There had been no announcement or information from the crew about the CDC assessments, he said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Americans evacuating the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak are arriving on the US West Coast.

The coronavirus emerged from China two months ago. It has killed 638 people, mostly in China, and paralyzed the world’s second biggest economy.

It has infected more than 31,000 in more than 25 countries and territories. The US has at least 12 confirmed cases.

The Anthem of the Seas is scheduled to sail Friday at 4 p.m. ET.

Royal Caribbean will “be conducting enhanced sanitation in the cruise terminal and onboard, as part of our ongoing illness prevention efforts,” the cruise line tweeted to passengers expected to board.

The ship is “still scheduled to sail and if you choose to cancel regular cancellation penalties would apply,” according to a tweet.

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