The Holland America Line cruise ship MS Zaandam is pictured in Panama City, Panama March 28, 2020. (Reuters photo)
US President Donald Trump is urging the governor of Florida to open a port to two Dutch cruise ships stuck off the Pacific coast of Central America with a deadly coronavirus outbreak onboard.
Speaking on Tuesday during a White House press briefing, Trump said he would call Florida Governor Ron DeSantis about whether to allow the two Holland America cruise ships to dock.
DeSantis has declared the cruise ships unwelcome to prevent their sick passengers from being "dumped" on his state.
"Theyíre dying on the ship," Trump said, adding, "Iím going to do whatís right, not only for us but for humanity."
The presidentís remarks contrast with his response in February to a different cruise ship, the Grand Princess, which he said should remain at sea instead of coming into port in California.
The Zaandam, and its sister ship, the Rotterdam, were allowed to sail through the Panama Canal into the Caribbean on Sunday and are now headed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, officials said.
But it remained uncertain who would be permitted to disembark in Florida, where concerns about the spread of the coronavirus were mounting. The Zaandam was carrying nearly 1,050 passengers and crew, and the Rotterdam almost 1,450.
"We cannot afford to have people who arenít even Floridians dumped into South Florida using up those valuable resources," DeSantis told Fox News on Monday.
As of Monday, 76 passengers and 117 crew members on the Zaandam and Rotterdam were showing influenza-like symptoms, including eight people who have tested positive for the virus.
Over 4,000 people have already died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in the United States, more than the 2,977 who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The total confirmed US cases has now risen to nearly 188,600.
Worldwide, there are more than 870,000 cases of the highly contagious illness and over 43,000 deaths reported.
SOURCE: PRESS TV