12 Houston-area coronavirus cases linked to Egypt cruise

Mike Chiari The Texas Tribune Leave a Comment

Another recent traveler on an Egypt cruise ship tested positive for the new coronavirus in Harris County on Sunday, according to a county press release.

The Houston area now has 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with six cases each in Harris and Fort Bend counties. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Friday that at least 17 people in the area recently returned from a group trip to Egypt, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The statuses of the other travelers remain unknown.

The newest cruise ship passenger to test positive for COVID-19 “is a female, between 60-70 years old, and is from the unincorporated area of Northwest Harris County,” according to the Sunday release. She has been quarantined and is being monitored by Harris County Public Health.

In a Monday press release, Harris County Public Health, the Houston Health Department, and Fort Bend County Health and Human Services asked that “any local residents who recently traveled to Egypt and took a Nile River cruise to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days and contact their local health department.”

A man in Fort Bend County was the first of the group to test positive Thursday. Until Monday, the Egypt travelers made up all of Texas’ positive COVID-19 cases, outside of the 11 confirmed cases for evacuees who were repatriated and held at San Antonio Lackland Air Force Base. On Monday, a man in Collin County also tested positive for the respiratory virus. He is thought to have caught it while traveling in California, making him the first in Texas to have contracted it domestically.

At least 26 Americans on another cruise ship are being quarantined in the Egyptian city of Luxor, and at least three are suspected of testing positive, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The U.S. Department of State released a travel advisory this weekend in response to the spread of the new coronavirus on multiple cruise ships from which Americans have had to be repatriated.

“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the release reads. “CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment.”

While U.S. citizens from ships like the Diamond Princess, the Grand Princess and others have been repatriated, “flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities,” the release continued.

All of the Texas cases have so far been travel-related, and there is still no evidence of community spread in the state.

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