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: May 29, 2020 - 9:37pm

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

May 29, 2020 - 9:37pm

The Department of Health reports 1,046 new cases of the coronavirus disease, the highest surge in a day in the Philippines. This brings the national tally to 16,634.

The agency says there are 122 recoveries and 21 new fatalities. 

May 29, 2020 - 5:39pm

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says that out of the 539 new cases reported Thursday, only 109 were "fresh cases" or those confirmed in the last three days.

The remaining were reported infections from last week.

May 29, 2020 - 9:03am

The United States records 1,297 coronavirus deaths on Thursday, bringing its total to 101,573 since the global pandemic began, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The country has also officially logged 1,720,613 cases of the virus, far more than any other nation, the tracker kept by the Baltimore-based university showed at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Friday). — AFP

May 29, 2020 - 7:17am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 357,311 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT on Thursday. 

At least 5,747,100 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 2,296,900 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

May 28, 2020 - 4:08pm

The Department of Health reports 539 new cases of the coronavirus disease, the highest in a single day, taking the national tally to 15,588.

There are 92 new recoveries and 17 new fatalities, the health department adds.

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