Four Passengers Die in Coronavirus Outbreak on Carnival's Holland America Ship

Four passengers died aboard Holland America’s Zaandam cruise ship, and two people on board tested positive for the coronavirus.
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Four passengers died aboard Holland America’s Zaandam cruise ship and two people on board tested positive for the coronavirus, the company said Friday.

Nearly 140 passengers and crew members have flu-like symptoms on the cruise ship, which is currently holding offshore Panama, Holland America said. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board.

"Holland America Line can confirm that four older guests have passed away on Zaandam," the company said. “No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas, Chile.”

Holland America is owned by Carnival Corp.,  (CCL) - Get Report whose shares on Friday tumbled 19% to $14.40. 

Cruise companies shares had been surging earlier in the week; a late change to the U.S. stimulus package limited relief for companies not incorporated in the U.S. Carnival is incorporated in Panama but operates out of Miami.

The Holland America ship Zaandam left Buenos Aires on March 7 and was originally scheduled to end its voyage at San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. 

"Zaandam is currently off the coast of Panama and rendezvoused with sister ship Rotterdam at 7:30 p.m. local time yesterday, March 26," the company said. 

"While the onward plan for both ships is still being finalized, we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities on approval to transit the Panama Canal for sailing to Fort Lauderdale, Florida."

The Zaandam is now at least the third Carnival-owned ship to become the site of a coronavirus outbreak. 

Carnival's Diamond Princess had more than 700 infected passengers and crew and at least eight people died after disembarking the ship. 

U.S. officials said there were 21 confirmed Covid-19 cases on another Carnival-owned ship, the Grand Princess, which was moored offshore California.

Separately, Bloomberg reported Friday that Carnival was in talks to raise as much as $7 billion as the cruise ship operator seeks to shore up its finances amid a halt on global travel.