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: March 5, 2021 - 4:02pm

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

March 5, 2021 - 4:02pm

The Philippines records 3,045 new coronavirus infections Friday—the highest single day rise since mid-October, pushing the country’s caseload to 587,704.

The department also records 178 new recoveries and 19 more fatalities, bringing the total of survivors to 535,207 and the death toll to 12,423, respectively.

Active cases in the country are at 40,074 or 6.8% of the total cases.

March 5, 2021 - 12:49pm

The World Health Organization has scrapped plans for a team that visited Wuhan, China to probe the origins of the coronavirus pandemic to issue an interim report, The Wall Street Journal reports late Thursday.

Wuhan is the city where the pandemic is believed to have originated in late 2019.

The WHO team returned recently from its visit there saying it had no clear finding on the genesis of the virus, amid tensions between the US and China on what caused the once-in-a century global health crisis. —  AFP

March 5, 2021 - 11:43am

The United States records fewer than 40,000 new cases of Covid-19 in one day for the first time in five months on Thursday, according to the Johns Hopkins University pandemic tracker.

This number peaked at nearly 300,000 new cases on January 8 in the country hardest hit by the pandemic, with more than half a million fatalities.

But now it is back down to the levels of before Thanksgiving and Christmas, when holiday travel and gatherings in defiance of safety warnings were blamed for spreading the virus further in the US. —  AFP

March 4, 2021 - 9:38am

Brazil registers a record of Covid-19 deaths for the second straight day Wednesday, with 1,910 lives lost to the pandemic.

With a surge in cases currently pushing health systems to the limit in many areas, Brazil has recorded a total of 259,271 deaths, according to the health ministry — the second-highest death toll worldwide, after the United States.

"For the first time since the pandemic began, we are seeing a deterioration across the entire country," public health institute Fiocruz said before the latest figures were published.

"The situation is alarming." —  AFP

March 3, 2021 - 8:43am

Brazil on Tuesday registers a record 1,641 deaths in 24 hours from Covid-19, health authorities announced, as the country endures a further worsening of the pandemic.

The country of 212 million inhabitants has recorded a total of 257,361 Covid-19 deaths, according to the health ministry, and has the second-highest national death toll after the United States.

Brazil continues to have a piecemeal response, with individual cities and states setting their own policies in the face of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's repeated attacks on restrictive measures and face masks. —  AFP

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