Dozens of people on board the Grand Princess cruise left in limbo off the California coast will be tested for the infection, the cruise liner confirmed in a Thursday morning statement.
Princess Cruises said in a statement that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently on board the vessel — and that the CDC has identified individuals who will be tested before the ship docks in San Francisco.
“There are fewer than 100 guests and crew identified for testing, including all in-transit guests… those guests and crew who have experienced influenza-like illness symptoms on this voyage, and guests currently under care for respiratory illness,” the statement said.
The US Coast Guard is expected to deliver sampling kits to the ship via helicopter Thursday morning, according to the statement.
An on-board medical team will conduct the test and samples will be sent in batches by helicopter to a lab in Richmond, Calif.
“Public health officials have advised that no guests will be permitted to disembark until all results have been received,” the statement said. “Out of an abundance of caution, all guests who have been identified for testing have been asked to remain in their staterooms. We will continue to proceed under the guidance of the US CDC and local authorities.”
The Grand Princess was traveling to Ensenada, Mexico, but instead headed Wednesday to San Francisco following news that a 71-year-old passenger died from the virus after returning home, the company said.
The cruise line attributed the travel change to health officials investigating a “small cluster” of recent passengers with the virus in Northern California.
In addition, the ship’s voyage to Hawaii, which was scheduled to depart March 7, has been canceled, Princess Cruises confirmed. All guests will receive a full refund of their cruise fare.
Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that 11 passengers and 10 crew members have developed flu-like symptoms and need to be tested before receiving clearance to San Francisco or any other California port, according to KPIX 5.
“It is a dynamic situation as it relates to the cruise ship, but nothing that should be alarming,” Newsom said. “Appropriate protocols are in place, and as I said, the ship will not come on shore and tour till we appropriately assess the passengers and appropriately assess the protocols and procedures once people make it back on a to state land, state property.”
The group that was possibly contaminated by the virus was ordered Wednesday to stay in their rooms until they are screened by the on-board medical team.
The former passenger who succumbed to the illness was a 71-year-old man who died at a medical center in Placer County, northeast of Sacramento, where he had been in isolation.
He tested positive for the virus Tuesday, after he was “likely exposed” on the Grand Princess, during its Feb. 11-21 voyage from San Francisco to Mexico and back, county health officials said.
Hours after the man’s death was announced, Newsom declared a state of emergency over the spreading illness, which has struck 12 counties in the state and has sickened more than 50 people.
Princess Cruises previously made headlines over a quarantined Diamond Princess cruise in Japan that had more than 700 passengers infected with the virus.