An outbreak of the ordinary flu on a Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship prompted crew to return to Baltimore.
The February voyage experienced a sudden outbreak of flu-like symptoms during its trip. Medical staff aboard began isolating guests that displayed likely symptoms as according to protocol. They notified the Center for Disease Control and Prevention once testing verified the outbreak.
In total, 82 people tested positive for influenza A or B – the common strains of the seasonal virus.
However, none received testing for the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Though, since the outbreak was identified as influenza, there was no suspicion of the new virus presently dominating headlines.
Coronavirus cases currently number over 89,900 worldwide, with at least 3,056 deaths. However, of those, the United States only accounts for 88 infections and 2 deaths. While some recent cases demonstrated community spread in the US, the coronavirus remains relatively small scale. Three people in Maryland have been tested for COVID-19, though no confirmed cases exist within the state.
Comparatively, the flu outbreak in Maryland alone hospitalized 3,000 residents this season. Additionally, 40 people died as a result of regular flu infection. Focus on the coronavirus leads many to neglect the threat of regular seasonal threats.
Fran Phillips with Public Health Services stressed the use of flu shots as a means of prevention. Several individuals remain in urgent care with confirmed cases of influenza in Maryland. “This is still a period in Maryland where influenza season is widespread and very active,” she said.
Governor Larry Hogan said the state takes every precaution to prevent the spread of any viruses through the population. He also stated the government will provide updates on public health issues.
However, he also said, “There is no immediate public health emergency in Maryland.”