SIX Filipinos aboard the MV Grand Princess — now docked in Oakland, California — have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Philippine Department of Health confirmed this week.
The confirmation, based on a report from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was delivered by Joel Buenaventura on Tuesday, March 10, chief health program officer of the DOH’s Migrant Health Unit during a House of Representatives committee hearing.
However, it is not yet clear whether the six infected Filipinos are all crew members or if some of them are passengers.
Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Henry Bensurto Jr. previously said there are 529 Filipino crew members and nine Filipino passengers on the luxury cruise ship.
In an advisory, the Philippine government is working with the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C., Consulate General in San Francisco, U.S. government and cruise line on the repatriation of Filipino passengers and crew members “who wish to be voluntarily repatriated.“
The Grand Princess had been stranded off the coast of San Francisco after it was stopped by United States officials to test those on board for the potential virus infection, a move that was decided after several passengers who were on the Grand Princess’ earlier voyage and remained on the cruise ship for its next stop to Hawaii developed flu-like symptoms.
Reports have also said that the Grand Princess previously carried the first person who died from COVID-19 in California.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced that 21 people out of the 45 tested were positive for COVID-19.
On Monday, March 9, the cruise ship docked at the port in Oakland with its first passengers finally disembarking. As of Tuesday, 1,406 people had disembarked from the ship, leaving at least 1,000 still on board.
The individuals who disembarked are being relocated to a cluster of buildings on the Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove. They will be temporarily housed in buildings that are removed from visitors and the public, and will not interact with other Asilomar guests, employees or the general public.
While none of them contracted COVID-19, they will be tested and monitored by medical professionals while at Asilomar.
“We understand people across California are concerned about novel coronavirus, and that’s why we’re collaborating with our federal partners to ensure that the community surrounding Asilomar is not impacted,” said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. (Ritchel Mendiola/AJPress)