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Cruise ship carrying passengers with possible coronavirus infections remains at sea

California’s governor has denied docking rights until passengers can be tested for COVID-19

Photo (c) wildpixel - Getty Images
Another cruise ship is suspected of being a hotbed of the coronavirus, codenamed COVID-19, and remains at sea after being refused entry to California’s ports.

Princess Cruises says another of its ships -- the Grand Princess -- is suspected of transporting some passengers who may have the virus. California health officials say they plan to test another 45 passengers before the ship is allowed to disembark in San Francisco.

The ship was on its way to Hawaii when it was ordered to turn around and return to California. The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, said the order came after some of the passengers and crew developed symptoms related to the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says three consumers who were previous passengers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and one of those passengers died. The ship is carrying 3,500 passengers and crew. San Francisco health officials say about 35 people have tested positive for the virus.

Diamond Princess ordeal

Last month, passengers aboard the cruise liner Diamond Princess spent two weeks in quarantine aboard the ship in a Japanese port after an outbreak of the virus. American passengers were eventually evacuated after many of them tested positive for the virus. At the time, the outbreak aboard the ship was the largest outside of China.

“That ship (Grand Princess) is now being delayed to provide ample opportunity for the CDC in partnership with Coast Guard and state health officials to conduct tests,” Newsom said at a briefing.

Test kits were delivered to the ship on Thursday and will be analyzed at a lab in Richmond, California. Results are expected later today.

Instructions to cruise lines

Fears about the coronavirus have taken a heavy toll on the travel industry, especially cruise lines. Some cruise lines have changed their schedules, especially for cruises to Asian ports. This week the Cruise Lines International Association issued these guidelines to member companies:

  • Deny boarding to all persons who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in South Korea, Iran, China, including Hong Kong and Macau, and any municipality in Italy subject to lockdown (quarantine) measures by the Italian Government, as designated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within 14 days prior to embarkation.

  • Conduct illness screening for all persons who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in any destinations listed on the U.S. CDC “Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel” page within 14 days before embarkation. Illness screening includes symptom history checks for fever, cough and difficulty breathing in the 14 days before embarkation and taking of temperature.

  • Deny boarding to all persons who, within 14 days prior to embarkation, have had contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed as having COVID-19, or who are currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to COVID-19.

  • Conduct pre-boarding screening necessary to effectuate these prevention measures. Enhanced screening and initial medical support are to be provided, as needed, to any persons exhibiting symptoms of suspected COVID-19.

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