One man has been airlifted from Grand Princess while at least 35 passengers have presented with flu-like symptoms, and are undergoing Coronavirus testing, along with several dozen others suspected of having the virus, according to Princess Cruises.
“There are fewer than 100 guests and crew identified for testing, including all in-transit guests (guests who sailed the previous Mexico voyage and remained on board for the current Hawaii voyage), those guests and crew who have experienced influenza-like illness symptoms on this voyage, and guests currently under care for respiratory illness,” the cruise line said.
Grand Princess is currently in a holding pattern off the coast. The US Coast Guard delivered sampling kits to the ship on Thursday morning so that the on-board medical team can administer the test.
The samples will be sent in batches by helicopter to a lab in Richmond, California, across the bay from San Francisco, according to Princess Cruises.
“Public health officials have advised that no guests will be permitted to disembark until all results have been received. Out of an abundance of caution, all guests who have been identified for testing have been asked to remain in their staterooms,” a statement from the cruise line said.
At a morning news conference, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city was working closely with the United States Coast Guard, CDC and State of California to identify a dock for the ship and a system by which passengers and crew will be disembarked.
She said decision making was ongoing on where the ship would eventually dock, with multiple sites in California under consideration.
Princess Cruises has cancelled the March 7th departure of Grand Princess, a voyage that was to take her back to Hawaii.
“All guests will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, Princess Air, Princess Cruise Plus pre- and post-cruise hotel packages, prepaid shore excursions and other prepaid items purchased through Princess,” the cruise line said.
“Unexpected expenses, such as air change fees, reimbursement of reasonable non-refundable out-of-pocket expenses will be considered on a case-by-case basis,” it added. “Guests will also receive a Future Cruise Credit equal to 100% of the cruise fare paid on this voyage.”
This is the second Coronavirus incident for Princess Cruises. It’s ship Diamond Princess (a sister ship to Grand Princess) was quarantined in Japan for several weeks when a former passenger was found to have Coronavirus – a total of 700 passengers were ultimately found to have the virus.
Coronavirus has infected almost 100,000 people worldwide after spreading from Wuhan, China, where the vast majority of infections and deaths have occurred.
More than 3,400 have died thus far and there has been a severe impact to the global economy and major industries like the cruise sector.