COVID-19 test kits airlifted to cruise ship off California coast

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San Francisco, March 6 (IANS) Coronavirus test kits were delivered via helicopters to a cruise ship being held off the coast of San Francisco which was linked to the first death caused by the virus in California.

Video footage posted on social media on Thursday showed US Coast Guard was delivering the test kits to the Grand Princess cruise ship, which was banned by California Governor Gavin Newsom from docking at San Francisco, after one of its passengers died from the disease, the first such death in the state, reports Xinhua news agency.

A statement from the cruise ship said on Wednesday that “there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently on board, and the US Centers of Disease Control (CDC) has identified groups of guests and crew who will be tested before arrival into San Francisco”.

San Francisco Director of the Department of Emergency Management Mary Carroll told the media on Thursday that 35 people on the boat had developed flu-like symptoms during a 15-day cruise between San Francisco and Mexico, but most of them have recovered and no longer showed such symptoms.

“There are fewer than 100 guests and crew identified for testing, including all in-transit guests (guests who sailed the previous Mexico voyage and remained on board for the current Hawaii voyage),” the Grand Princess said in an earlier statement.

It asked all passengers who have been identified for testing to remain in their staterooms, and no guests will be allowed to disembark before the results from the CDC were available.

There are about 2,500 passengers and 500 crew members aboard the ship, according to local media.

The Princess Cruise company confirmed that it has cancelled the upcoming Grand Princess Hawaii cruise that was originally scheduled to leave on March 7.

The San Francisco-based cruise ship belongs to the same company that owned the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where more than 700 people tested positive for coronavirus during a mass outbreak on board and were trapped at a port in Japan for weeks in February.

As of Thursday, the CDC said that there were 148 coronavirus cases in the US including 50 with no clear source of infection. There have been 11 deaths in the country — 10 in Washington state and one in California.

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