Cruise ship Grand Princess will begin allowing passengers to disembark Monday after As of Friday, 21 people on board tested positive for the coronavirus.
Princess Cruises announced Sunday morning that it had been informed by state and local officials that the cruise off the coast of California could dock in the port of Oakland on Monday, although an hour exact is not available, director of public relations of the cruise company Negin Kamali told the US TODAY.
Customers who “require acute medical treatment and hospitalization” will be the first to disembark. Kamali said it was “unclear” if other passengers would also be allowed to leave the ship on Monday, or if they would have to wait further.
“California residents will travel to a federal government-run facility in California for testing and isolation, while non-Californians will be transported by the federal government to facilities in other states,” said one press release provided by Kamali. “The crew will be quarantined and treated on board the ship.”
Prior to the announcement, more than 3,500 people aboard the Grand Princess of Princess Cruises had remained in limbo earlier Saturday evening as they awaited further information on when and where the cruise ship will dock.
Only 45 passengers and crew members were tested, and of those who tested positive, 19 were crew members and two were passengers.
A Californian who died on Wednesday was probably infected with a coronavirus before boarding the Grand Princess last month.
In a conference call with reporters on Saturday evening, Grant Tarling, chief medical officer of Carnival Corporation, the parent company of Princess Cruises, said that the man had boarded the ship in San Francisco on February 11, while he was leaving for Mexico.
Tarling said the man sought medical treatment at the ship’s medical center on February 20 and reported symptoms of “acute respiratory illness” for about a week. Since Tarling noted that the new coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has an incubation period of five to six days, it is likely that the man was infected before boarding the ship.
“We believe this business was acquired by the community in California and brought to the ship,” said Tarling.
Tarling said Princess was informed on March 2 that the man, in the early 1970s, had tested positive for coronavirus in Placer County, California. The man died Wednesday in a hospital in Roseville, California, where he had been placed in medical isolation.
Tarling previously stated that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not established a test protocol for the vessel, nor specified how many passengers and crew members would be tested.
“The CDC did not tell us,” he said. “We are waiting for the CDC to provide definitive information on this.”
Swartz said Princess Cruises has made recommendations to agencies that will decide what to do with the ship, based on its experience last month with the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined off the coast of Japan. More than 700 of the passengers on this ship developed a coronavirus and six died.
“We have to bring the ship to a port as soon as possible,” she said.
Passengers on the Grand Princess could be disembarked to deal with quarantine, perhaps at US military bases or other sites. This is what happened to hundreds of passengers who were exposed to the virus on the Diamond Princess in January.
In his most recent comments on the ship, President Donald Trump, speaking Friday at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said he would prefer not to leave passengers on American soil, but will rely on the recommendations of medical experts.
“I don’t need to double the number (of cases in the United States) because of a ship that was not our fault,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “And it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship either. Okay? It wasn’t their fault either. And they’re mostly American, so I can live both ways.”
Speaking at the White House on Friday evening, Vice President Mike Pence said that 46 people aboard the ship, held off the coast of California, had been tested for the coronavirus. Of these, 24 were negative and one of the tests was inconclusive. Pence said that of the 21 positive tests, 19 were crew members and two were passengers.
“Those who need to be quarantined will be quarantined. Those who need medical help will get it, ”said Pence. .
Kailee Higgins Ott, 17, is aboard the Grand Princess with her mother. She said on Saturday that they were fine. At this point, she just wants more information.
“Part of me wants to be tested and have a plan very soon,” she told USA TODAY. “But a part of me doesn’t want it either. I feel nervous if we have to move to a military base because I don’t know what it will look like. Right now, we’re being treated well and it’s not so bad in the room, so moving to another place would be weird. ”
Some of the captain’s announcements, she said, are confusing.
“I think the captain could say more because we read more than the captain tells us about the whole situation,” she added.
Princess Cruises said the ship provides food and drink via room service, providing free internet and telephone service so passengers can stay in touch with families and work with the CDC to determine if precautionary measures more were needed. The cruise line’s medical team also collects information from customers regarding prescription refill needs.
The company announced on Wednesday that the people on board may have been exposed to the coronavirus after sailing with 62 passengers who, according to officials, had previously traveled to Mexico with a 71-year-old Californian man who ultimately died of the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised customers to stay in their rooms as of Thursday, but had not declared a quarantine, according to a Princess Cruises statement released Thursday by spokeswoman Alivia Owyoung Ender.
A Coast Guard helicopter lowered test kits on the 951-foot Grand Princess on Thursday.
Personal protective equipment was delivered to the ship on Friday evening via a US Coast Guard helicopter, the line said on Saturday. The new equipment was intended to supplement the offer already on board.
As of Saturday morning, the coronavirus had infected more than 102,000 people worldwide and killed 3,491 people, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Other cases related to Grand Princess continue to appear
While the passengers remained on the Grand Princess, new cases related to the ship appeared.
The Chicago Department of Public Health said on Friday evening that an employee of Chicago public schools had tested positive for coronavirus – the city’s first case and the sixth in Illinois.
The woman, in her 50s, disembarked from the Grand Princess in San Francisco on February 21 and returned to Chicago on February 24. She is currently hospitalized and in stable condition, city officials said.
The woman returned to work, but stayed at home after she started to develop symptoms, officials said. The test came back positive on Friday.
The school where she works, Jacqueline B. Vaughn Occupational High School, will be closed next week.
The city’s school system and health service “have already started a huge outreach effort for each student, employee and family in this school community to inform them of the confirmed case,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot during a press conference Friday evening.
Carson City Health and Human Services, Nevada, confirmed on Friday that it is also monitoring “a few” people in its jurisdiction who are related to the cruise ship Grand Princess.
“In many ways, our ships are small floating cities. Just as life goes on in cities for better or for worse, life also happens on board our ships, “said Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz. in a video posted on Twitter Friday morning.
This is not the first Coronavirus cruise from Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises also owns the Diamond Princess, the ship that was quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, and has experienced a coronavirus epidemic that has infected nearly 700 passengers. Six died.
“We have learned a lot from our recent experience in Japan, and are learning from these lessons as we continue to support our fleet and our customers,” said Swartz in the video on Twitter.
Sure social media, the cruise line was busy responding to a myriad of tweets from worried customers about upcoming cruises, assuring them that their reservations could be canceled. Princess allows people who have booked a cruise until May 31, 2020 to modify their reservations.
Maryland residents tested positive after cruise on Egyptian ship
Meanwhile, three Maryland residents tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday after traveling on an Egyptian Nile cruise, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said Friday evening.
The married couple in their 40s and an unrelated woman in their 50s, all from Montgomery County, are the first patients to test positive for coronavirus in the state.
“It seems to be the same cruise ship that the World Health Organization (WHO) announced today, has 12 workers who have been quarantined for 14 days” after a positive test, said Hogan. “And our three Maryland cases appear to be linked to six confirmed cases of coronavirus in Texas.”
Texas health services on Thursday announced positive coronavirus tests for several Harris County residents who had recently traveled abroad together.
An Egyptian Nile cruise ship with more than 150 tourists and local crew was quarantined on Saturday in the southern city of Luxor after 12 people tested positive for the new coronavirus.
A Taiwanese-American tourist who had previously been on the same ship tested positive on his return to Taiwan. The World Health Organization has informed the Egyptian authorities, who have tested all the people currently on the ship.
Health officials have discovered that a dozen Egyptian crew members have contracted the fast-spreading virus but have no symptoms, according to a statement released on Friday.
The statement said the 12 people will be transferred in isolation to a hospital on the north coast of Egypt. The passengers – which include Americans, French and other nationalities – and the crew will remain in quarantine on the ship pending further test results.
Egyptian authorities have been quiet about the virus epidemic, previously reporting only three confirmed cases. It is even then that the wider Middle East now has more than 6,000 confirmed cases.
Contributor: The Associated Press, Andrea Mandell and Curtis Tate, USA TODAY, Matthew Prensky, Salisbury Daily Times