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British national dies aboard coronavirus-hit cruise ship heading to Florida



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A British national is among four people to have died on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship embroiled in a bitter dispute over plans to disembark passengers in the US.

In what is being described as an unfolding humanitarian crisis, so far two of the four people to have died on the cruise ship Zaandam have been confirmed to have had Covid-19, with nine people aboard testing positive and 189 reporting flu-like symptoms.

“One of the deceased passengers is from the UK,” a spokesman for the Holland America cruise line, which operates the Zaandam, said. “Due to US … laws, we cannot provide any additional medical and health details.”

The Zaandam, which is carrying more than 200 Brits, and its sister ship the Rotterdam, passed through the Panama Canal on Monday after being denied entry to several ports. Both ships are seeking to dock in Florida later this week.

But the state’s governor is reluctant to allow disembarkation for the more than 1,000 people aboard the Zaandam.

Governor Ron DeSantis told a news conference on Tuesday that Florida’s health care resources were already stretched too thin by the coronavirus outbreak to take on the Zaandam’s caseload.

The US Coast Guard has said if local authorities cannot agree on a docking plan, the matter will go to the the federal government for decision.

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