| 13.4°C Belfast

Coronavirus-hit Grand Princess cruise ship to remain at sea for one more day

It comes as public venues and schools in California are closed to stop further spread of Covid-19.


An empty dining centre on the Grand Princess cruise ship (Michele Smith/AP)

An empty dining centre on the Grand Princess cruise ship (Michele Smith/AP)

An empty dining centre on the Grand Princess cruise ship (Michele Smith/AP)

A cruise ship hit by the new coronavirus and headed to the Port of Oakland in California will remain in international waters for at least another day.

Officials have been working on plans to transport passengers to federal facilities around the county and local officials began ordering the closure of schools and public spaces to try and stop the spread of the virus.

The largest school district in northern California has cancelled classes for a week after it was discovered that a family in the district had been exposed to Covid-19.

The Elk Grove School District, which is near Sacramento, has nearly 64,000 pupils.

Governor Gavin Newsom warned on Sunday that more closures are likely around the state as the virus spreads.

This ship will depart Oakland as soon as possible and will remain elsewhere for the duration of the crew's quarantineCalifornia Governor's Office of Emergency Services

The Grand Princess ship, which is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries, is expected to arrive on Monday.

Captain John Smith, in a recording provided by passenger Laurie Miller, of San Jose, told passengers on Saturday night that “after docking, we will then begin a disembarkation process specified by federal authorities that will take several days”.

Ship passengers who need medical treatment will go to healthcare facilities in California, while state residents who do not require acute medical care “will go to a federally run isolation facility within California for testing and isolation”, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said in a statement on Sunday.

“The crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship but importantly the ship will only stay in Port of Oakland for the duration of disembarkment,” it said.

“This ship will depart Oakland as soon as possible and will remain elsewhere for the duration of the crew’s quarantine.”

Virus Outbreak California
The Grand Princess cruise ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge as it arrives from Hawaii in San Francisco last month (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle/AP)

American guests from other states will be transported by the federal government to facilities in other states.

Crew members will be quarantined and treated on board the ship.

Mr Smith said the information he was given did not include any details about what would happen to passengers from other countries.

Some Americans will be transferred to military bases in San Antonio, Texas, and Marietta, Georgia, officials said.

It was not clear when the groups would arrive.

The Grand Princess had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of nearly 20 cases that resulted in at least one death after a previous voyage.

Vice-president Mike Pence announced on Friday that at least 21 people aboard the ship, including 19 crew members, have tested positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, the US death toll from the virus is at 19, with all but three victims in Washington state.

The number of infections swelled to more than 400, scattered across the US.

Meanwhile, a cruise ship was being held off the coast of Florida on Sunday awaiting test results on whether two crew members have contracted the new coronavirus.

Virus Outbreak-Regal Princess
The Regal Princess Cruise ship is seen at sea about 5 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

The Regal Princess was supposed to dock in Port Everglades on Sunday morning but was instead sailing up and down the coast, the Miami Herald reported.

The crew members in question had transferred from the Grand Princess cruise ship.

The Coast Guard delivered testing kits to the Regal Princess on Sunday morning and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issued a “no-sail order” for the ship.

Another Princess ship, the Diamond Princess, was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama, Japan, last month because of the virus.

Ultimately, about 700 of the 3,700 people aboard became infected in what experts pronounced a public-health failure.