Coast Guard: Cruise ships must stay at sea with sick onboard

Coronavirus

Cruise ships are docked at PortMiami, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has directed all cruise ships to prepare to treat any sick passengers and crew on board while being sequestered “indefinitely” offshore during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new rules require daily updates on each ship’s caseload. They also come with a stiff warning: Any foreign-flagged vessels “that loiter beyond U.S. territorial seas” should try first to medically evacuate the very sick to the countries where they are registered.

Many of South Florida’s cruise ships are registered in the Bahamas. The Coast Guard says shore-side facilities are stressed and patients may be more comfortable being treated onboard.

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