(NEXSTAR) – A woman has died of COVID-19 after testing positive during a Carnival cruise to the Caribbean earlier this month.
The woman, 77, was one of dozens who tested positive for COVID-19 on the Carnival Vista prior to an Aug. 11 stop in Belize, The New York Times reported. She was placed on a ventilator at a Belize hospital before being transferred to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for further medical care before passing on Aug. 14, according to a GoFundMe page cited by the Times.
It was also the woman’s first trip outside of the U.S., added her granddaughter, who initially organized the crowdfunding effort to cover the 77-year-old’s medical costs.
Earlier this month, the Belize Tourism Board confirmed 27 people aboard the Carnival Vista — which had left from Galveston, Texas — had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the stop in Belize. Of them, 26 were crew members. The 77-year-old woman was the sole passenger who tested positive for COVID-19, the Times reported.
Carnival Cruise has since confirmed the death of a passenger, but denied that she contracted COVID-19 while on the cruise.
“We are very sorry to hear about the death of a guest who sailed on Carnival Vista,” Carnival wrote in a statement shared with Nexstar. “Regrettably, there is a fair amount of disinformation about the circumstances of this matter. The guest almost certainly did not contract COVID on our ship, and she was assisted with expert medical care on board and was ultimately evacuated from Belize after we provided a resource to her family.
“We have continued to provide support to her family and are not going to add to their sadness by commenting further,” the statement concluded.
The Carnival Vista made headlines last week after reports of positive COVID cases onboard, despite 99.98% of the ship’s crew and 96.5% of its passengers being vaccinated, according to the Belize Tourism Board. At the time, all 27 positive cases were said to be among vaccinated people, the Associated Press reported.
In a separate statement, Carnival Cruise Line added that its voyages, including the one that left from Galveston on Aug. 7, have complied with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s requirement that 95% of guests and crew be vaccinated prior to embarkation. On Aug. 14, the Cruise Line also began requiring fully vaccinated guests to provide negative test results taken within three days of embarkation, in addition to proof of vaccination.
Meanwhile, unvaccinated guests who are exempt from the requirement must provide negative tests and submit to further testing before boarding and disembarking the ship.
The 77-year-old’s passing came less than a week before the CDC updated its guidance for cruise travel amid the global outbreak of the delta variant. Under the latest guidance, older people and high-risk travelers are being urged to avoid cruise travel altogether, whether vaccinated or not.