JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Travel on an Alaska ferry was temporarily suspended after the vessel transported passengers who tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities announced sailings by the M/V Matanuska are suspended until Aug. 21, The Juneau Empire reported Saturday.
The transportation department said in a statement that five passengers who traveled aboard the Matanuska last week tested positive for the virus.
The ferry’s crew was required to receive negative test results before the ship resumes service, the department said. On Monday, the department said tests on all 47 crew members returned negative.
Passengers who had tickets for the canceled sailings this week were being notified and either rescheduled or refunded, the department said.
The passengers are believed to have been infectious while traveling on the Matanuska, which embarked from Kake, traveled through Sitka and arrived in Juneau Aug. 10.
While the ship was in transit, the crew learned some passengers had been in close contact with an individual in Kake who had tested positive, the department said. The passengers were quarantined in their cabins and provided room service until arriving in Juneau, in accordance with protocols, the department said.
The passengers informed the department they had tested positive and the department informed other passengers and the public out of an abundance of caution.
State health officials recommended recent travelers on the Matanuska self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and take extra precautions.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.