6 Filipinos on MV Grand Princess test positive
Princess Cruises announced on Thursday, March 12 that it will suspend all operations of its 18 cruise ships for 60 days after two of its ships carried passengers, including six Filipinos, who were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The move is a “proactive response to the unpredictable circumstances evolving from the global spread of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.
One of its cruise ships, the MV 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.
Reports have also said that the ship previously carried a man who later died from COVID-19 in California, becoming the first passing in the state.
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.
Americans on board have been relocated to a hotel in San Carlos, California that can house up to 120 individuals, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said.
“Each person going to San Carlos has been screened by medical professionals, and because they have mild symptoms that do not require hospitalization, they cannot be quarantined at Travis Air Force Base. While none of these individuals are known to have contracted novel coronavirus (COVID-19), they will be tested and monitored by medical professionals,” the office said in a statement on Thursday.
According to Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Henry Bensurto Jr., there were 529 Filipino crew members and nine Filipino passengers on the luxury cruise ship.
Of those, six Filipinos tested positive for COVID-19. However, it is not yet clear whether the six infected Filipinos are all crew members or if some of them are passengers.
In February, 2,670 passengers and 1,100 crew members of Princess Cruises’ MV Diamond Princess were forced into quarantine following reports that a passenger who had disembarked more than a week before had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Of those, 80 Filipino crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
On February 25, 445 Filipinos were repatriated from the cruise ship and placed under a 14-day quarantine at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, as part of government policy.
Viking Cruises also announced this week that it would temporarily suspend river and ocean trips scheduled to depart between now and April 30.
The suspensions also come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. State Department recommended that all travelers avoid cruise ships, after previously extending the guidance to only the elderly and individuals with underlying health issues. (Ritchel Mendiola/AJPress)