SAN FRANCISCO — 11:41 p.m. update:
Princess Cruises said the ship will now dock on Monday, not Sunday as the ship's captain initially told passengers Saturday night.
10:15 p.m update:
The captain told passengers Saturday night that a cruise ship hit by the coronavirus is headed to the port of Oakland, California. Grand Princess Capt. John Smith told passengers in an audio address that the ship will dock in Oakland, California, likely Sunday afternoon.
Smith told passengers that people who require “acute medical treatment and hospitalization” will be taken to health care facilities in California. Other guests will be taken to federally operated isolation sites or transported out of California. The captain said he was not given any information about non-U.S. citizens. Carnival Cruise Lines officials said earlier Saturday that there are citizens of 54 countries aboard the ship.
Cruise officials and passengers confined to their rooms on a ship off the San Francisco Bay Area voiced mounting frustration as the weekend wore on with zero direction from authorities on where to go after 21 people tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The Grand Princess is forbidden to dock in San Francisco as evidence mounts that the vessel had been the breeding ground for a cluster of coronavirus cases on a previous voyage.
There are 3,533 people currently on board the Grand Princess, including 2,422 guests and 1,111 teammates, said Princess Cruises group president Jan Swartz during a conference call with journalists Saturday afternoon. Of those guests, 938 are from California.
Leaders with Carnival Corporation & plc, the parent company of Princess Cruises, told journalists Saturday that they are working with Port Authorities and local, state and federal officials on finalizing a place to dock the ship. As of the call Saturday afternoon, however, no location or time had been determined.
Swartz said they want passengers and crew off so they can receive proper care and evaluation, but they're awaiting word from decision makers.
"We are hopeful that the federal, state and local authorities and health experts can quickly agree [on] a practical plan that prioritizes the health and welfare of all on board Grand Princess and their home communities," Swartz said. "Our guests who expected to disembark today still do not know what to expect next."
Nineteen people have died in the U.S. from the virus, including a Rocklin man who was a former passenger on the Grand Princess. The number of infections has swelled to 400.
According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask. The CDC says the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low.
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Margie Hartle, 69, said she was showing coronavirus symptoms 3 days before the cruise ship returned to San Francisco on Feb. 21. She'll finally be tested Saturday.