A British person is among four people who have died on board coronavirus-hit cruise ship Zaandam as it tries to find a US port prepared to allow passengers off.

The ship’s operator Holland America Line confirmed that 76 passengers and 117 crew on Zaandam have influenza-like illness, including nine people who have tested positive for Covid-19.

A spokesman told Travel Weekly: “I can confirm that one of the deceased is from UK.”

He added that he could not comment further due to US laws covering the disclosure of medical and health details.

HAL president Orlando Ashford has described the situation as a humanitarian crisis and warned that more lives are at risk on board Zaandam.

The ship, which has almost 230 British passengers on board, passed through the Panama Canal on Monday heading to Florida with sister ship Rotterdam after being denied entry to multiple ports in South America.

It remains unclear where the ships will be allowed to dock in the US with Florida governor Ron DeSantis saying on Tuesday that the state’s health care resources were already stretched too thin to take on extra numbers from Zaandam.

However, president Donald Trump intervened by saying he will speak to DeSantis about the fate of two ships.

Trump said: “They’re dying on the ship. I’m going to do what’s right. Not only for us, but for humanity.”

The company said it was still waiting permission for the ships to dock.

HAL said: “Yesterday a number of patients with respiratory symptoms were tested for Covid-19 and two individuals tested positive.

“Out of an abundance of caution, on March 22 when Zaandam first saw a number of guests reporting to the medical centre with influenza-like illness symptoms, we took immediate protective measures, including asking all guests to self-isolate in their staterooms and implementing all other appropriate precautions that have been developed in co-ordination with the CDC.

“All guests and crew received face masks yesterday and were provided with instructions on when and how to wear them.

“We can confirm 11 Covid tests were given with 9 positive results.”

There are 1,243 passengers and 1,247 crew across the two ships.