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4 people dead on cruise ship bound for Florida

Holland America Line released this photograph of MS Zaandam, a cruise ship en route to Port Everglades.
Holland America Line released this photograph of MS Zaandam, a cruise ship en route to Port Everglades. (Holland America Line MS Zaandam)

At least four "older guests" have died on the Holland America cruise ship Zaandam, where two individuals have tested positive for the coronavirus, the cruise line said in a Friday news release.

The statement did not provide a cause of death or say when exactly the guests died.

As of Friday, 138 people -- 53 guests and 85 crew members -- had reported flu-like symptoms, Holland America said in its statement. There are 1,243 guests onboard and 586 crew members. The ship was off the coast of Panama.

On Thursday, a "number of patients with respiratory symptoms" tested for coronavirus, it said, and two people were positive.

The news release said that when the ship first saw guests report flu-like symptoms on March 22, the crew took protective measures and asked all guests to self-isolate in their rooms. All guests and crew members received face masks Thursday.

The ship exchanged medical supplies with a sister ship, Rotterdam, Thursday evening prior, according to the news release.

Cruise line officials are working with the Panamanian authorities to receive approval to use the Panama Canal before sailing on to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the news release said.