Virus-hit cruise ship passengers face wait in California port
Passengers disembark from the Princess Cruises Grand Princess cruise as it sits docked in the Port of Oakland on March 10, 2020 in Oakland, California. Passengers are slowly disembarking from the Princess Cruises Grand Princess a day after it docked at the Port of Oakland. The ship was held off the coast of California after 21 people on board tested tested positive for COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus.
AFP/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Virus-hit cruise ship passengers face wait in California port

Sébastien Vuagnat (Agence France-Presse) - March 11, 2020 - 8:51am

OAKLAND, United States — Passengers waiting to disembark from a coronavirus-hit cruise ship in California faced frustrating delays Tuesday, despite US President Donald Trump saying the operation was going "incredibly well."

The Grand Princess arrived at a sealed-off wharf at the port of Oakland in San Francisco Bay on Monday after days stranded at sea with 21 confirmed infections on board.

California Governor Gavin Newsom admitted the start of the operation had been slow, with just 676 people taken ashore by early Tuesday afternoon from roughly 2,400 passengers.

"We're going to need to see an increase in those processing in order to turn this ship around," he told a news conference. "We don't want to see it here for more than a week."

Trump earlier told a White House meeting that the "big ship that came in yesterday" was "going along incredibly well."

Health Secretary Alex Azar said it was "a very complex operation" but "progressing well," with all Californian residents expected to leave the ship Tuesday.

Two people infected with the virus were among those immediately taken for medical care in ambulances, overseen by emergency workers equipped with gowns, gloves, respirators and face shields.

After an overnight pause, more masked passengers were escorted in small groups from the Grand Princess to ambulances and waiting buses Tuesday.

"The captain said they hope to have us all off by tomorrow night," passenger Carolyn Wright, a 63-year-old from New Mexico, told AFP.

"We are getting really frustrated that they still have not told us where our ultimate destination will be," she added.

Princess Cruises, the operator, said the evacuation would be a "multiple day process."


US residents leaving the ship were to be quarantined for 14 days at military bases in California, Texas and Georgia.

But doubts emerged after Nevada unveiled its own plan to bring all 49 of its passengers -- who do not have symptoms -- directly to the state for quarantine at their homes.

"We have received confirmation from the federal government accepting all the conditions" of the plan, the Nevada governor's office said in a statement.

Passengers who were taken to hospital but found to be stable will be quarantined in hotels and motels throughout California, Newsom said.

Foreign passengers were being flown to their home countries.

Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said 228 Canadians were repatriated and would be quarantined for two weeks after landing at the Trenton air force base.

The 19 crew members who tested positive for coronavirus did not have symptoms and remained on the ship Tuesday, in isolation in their cabins, Princess Cruises said.

Newsom said the original plan to quarantine all crew on the ship once it leaves Oakland was being reconsidered. Some members of the crew -- which is disproportionately Filipino -- could instead be repatriated, he said.

A Florida couple travelling on the Grand Princess filed a $1 million lawsuit against the ship's operator alleging negligence.

Princess Cruises had "exposed plaintiffs to actual risk of immediate physical injury," a copy of the complaint filed at a Los Angeles court Monday said.

Newsom said it was now "incumbent upon seniors and those with any medical conditions, not to go on cruise ships, and to begin to socially isolate themselves from larger crowds."

Some 28 people have died of the coronavirus in the US, with almost 1,000 cases reported according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. — with Andrew Marszal in Los Angeles

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 20, 2021 - 6:07pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

April 20, 2021 - 6:07pm

Japan's third most populated region asks the central government to impose a state of emergency over the coronavirus as infections rise just three months before the country hosts the Olympics.

Osaka prefecture only lifted a state of emergency two months ago and restrictions are expected to be tougher this time, possibly involving store and shopping mall closures.

That would still fall short of the harsh lockdowns seen in many other parts of the world however. — AFP

April 19, 2021 - 9:00am

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces Sunday that the federal government will send resources and support to Ontario, the province battling a worrying spike in Covid infections.

Ottawa will mobilize health professionals from different federal departments and deploy them to Ontario, particularly the Toronto region, where "the situation is most critical," Trudeau says in a video posted to Twitter.

The government is also in discussion with multiple provinces, including Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, to free up personnel and equipment resources "over the coming days," the prime minister says. —  AFP

April 19, 2021 - 7:28am

Fiji orders two of its largest cities into lockdown Monday after the Pacific island nation recorded its first case of Covid-19 community transmission in 12 months.

Health authorities said the case was a 53 year-old woman who was a close contact of a soldier who contracted the virus at a quarantine facility in Nadi.

"To aid rapid contact tracing and reduce the likelihood of further transmission, we are announcing a lockdown of the greater Nadi and Lautoka area, starting from 4:00am this morning," the health department says in a statement. —  AFP

April 17, 2021 - 7:24pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 3,000,955 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

At least 139,869,290 cases of coronavirus have been registered. 

The vast majority have recovered, though some have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later. 

April 17, 2021 - 12:51pm

The global coronavirus death toll is expected to reach three million on Saturday, as the race for immunization continues and countries like India grapple with rising infections and new lockdowns.

The virus that surfaced in late 2019 in central China and the ensuing pandemic has infected more than 100 million people, leaving billions more under crippling lockdowns and ravaging the global economy.

India's capital New Delhi went into a weekend lockdown Saturday as the world's second-most populous nation faces more than 200,000 fresh daily cases and families clamouring for drugs and hospital beds. — AFP

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