Passengers on Grand Princess Told to Stay Inside Rooms for Rest of Trip Over Coronavirus Fears

March 5, 2020 Updated: March 5, 2020
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Passengers on the Grand Princess were told to stay inside their rooms for the rest of the voyage, according to operator Princess Cruises in a statement on Thursday evening.

The cruise line was banned from docking in San Francisco and any other California port until 21 passengers on board the ship are tested for COVID-19 coronavirus. They are currently suffering from flu-like symptoms, and Gov. Gavin Newsom made the move to prevent the vessel from disembarking, meaning that the ship is now floating off the California coast as of Thursday.

Princess Cruises said in a statement that the recommendation to advise passengers to stay inside came from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to ABC News. Staff members will now deliver meals to passengers, while all activities on the ship have been canceled, the operator said. Furthermore, the casino, gym, bars, and other public places on the ship have been shut down for the trip.

The California National Guard, earlier in the day, used helicopters to drop off COVID-19 testing kits on the ship.

“Many of those people have recovered and are no longer showing flu-like symptoms,” Mary Ellen Carroll, the San Francisco Director of the Department of Emergency Management, told CBS San Francisco. “Once we have results from the (coronavirus) tests (that will be run Thursday), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the state will determine the most appropriate location for the ship to berth. That location needs to provide for the safety of the surrounding community as well as the passengers.”

Princess Cruises, which also operated the Diamond Princess cruise ship that experienced a severe COVID-19 outbreak off the Japanese coast, said there have been no confirmed coronavirus cases on the Grand Princess.

“While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently on board, the CDC has identified groups of guests and crew who will be tested before arrival into San Francisco,” the firm said on Wednesday in a statement.

Newsom has said that 11 passengers and 10 crew members have flu-like symptoms and have to undergo testing before getting off in San Francisco or any other California city.

“It is a dynamic situation as it relates to the cruise ship, but nothing that should be alarming,” he said, according to the local station. Meanwhile, a crew member who had flu-like symptoms was removed from the ship when it made its voyage to Hawaii before testing negative for the new virus.

The ship had taken a trip to Mexico in February, which included an elderly man who died earlier this week in Placer County, California, of COVID-19, officials said. Officials said he likely contracted the virus on the ship, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Grand Princess can carry about 2,500 passengers approximately 1,100 crew members.