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Family of infected passenger on Celebrity Eclipse says coronavirus symptoms began showing at sea

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Posted at 12:42 AM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 09:10:34-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - At least four people that were on the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship has tested positive for the Coronavirus. The test results came after thousands of passengers disembarked from the ship, which docked in San Diego this week.

Up until the test results came, the cruise line was insisting that no one had shown symptoms of Coronavirus.

Three crew members and one passenger have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, the other passengers have been made to self-isolate when they get home.

The family of the passenger that tested for Coronavirus is raising serious concerns with how the cruise ship handled the situation.

Pete Nystrom's father and step-mother were on the cruise ship that left for sea on Mar. 1. His step-mother is the passenger that tested positive. Nystrom says she had gotten sick several days before the ship docked.

"I think she started feeling sick around the 25th. On the 26th was when she went to the infirmary," Nystrom said.

Nystrom says she went to the infirmary not once, but twice. The second time, she was given a device to help her breathe. Doctors first said it was bronchitis, then changed their diagnosis to pneumonia.

"She was definitely fighting for her life at that point," she said. "My dad's emails at that time were getting progressively worse, and saying, she's in really bad shape, and he's getting scared."

Royal Caribbean, the parent company of Celebrity, maintains no guest or crew members reported symptoms while sailing.

County health officials said they were notified before the ship came in that one passenger had a heart ailment and "possible" pneumonia.

"I can't imagine these doctors didn't know these were signs of Coronavirus, as he was writing us, we all knew it. We were watching the news every day seeing these symptoms matched up perfectly with it," Nystrom said.

Nystrom's step-mom was taken by ambulance off the ship first before any of the passengers were allowed off. He says it was hard to watch events unfold, knowing so many could be infected.

"We were getting more and more amazed," he said. "Hearing from my dad how much worse it's getting, that it's looking exactly like Coronavirus, and in the news (we hear), "everyone is in excellent health. We'll be letting them off the ship."

Nystrom says his father and step-mother are both in their 70s and at-risk because they have pre-existing health conditions. His step-mother is in the hospital in serious condition. His father is self-isolating in a location the county has given.

Nystrom is worried about the other people that were on board the ship. He says when his step-mother went to the infirmary, it was busy, and the doctors did not have protective gear from the virus. The cruise line is contacting passengers and instructing them to self-isolate.

"I'm hoping they (do) the isolation, and the quarantines get taken seriously," Nystrom said. "We are not in a great place by all of them getting off that ship and heading home, and they need to think about that and think of precautions."

10News has pressed the cruise line for clarity on the issue all day Tuesday, including reports that the crew members had self-isolated. They said they would look into it, but they stand by their original statement.