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Grand Princess cruise ship passengers await coronavirus test results


Coronavirus test results were expected Friday for some passengers and crew aboard a cruise ship held off the California coast.

The Grand Princess lay at anchor near San Francisco on Thursday after a traveler from a previous voyage died of the disease and at least four others became infected.

While the more than 3,500 aboard the 951-foot (290-meter) vessel were ordered to stay at sea as officials scrambled to keep the virus at bay, only 45 were identified for testing, Princess Cruises said in a statement.

“The ship will not come on shore until we appropriately assess the passengers,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

A Sacramento-area man who sailed on the ship in February later succumbed to the coronavirus. Two other passengers from that voyage have been hospitalized with the virus in Northern California, and two Canadians who recently sailed aboard the ship tested positive after returning home, officials said.

Northern California officials also are awaiting test results from a man who died Thursday after being on a cruise where others have tested positive.

Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 12 on Thursday, with all but one victim in Washington state, while the number of infections swelled to over 200, scattered across 18 states. Colorado and Nevada reported their first cases.

Nine of the dead were from the same suburban Seattle nursing home, now under federal investigation. Families of nursing home residents voiced anger, having received conflicting information about the condition of their loved ones. One woman was told her mother had died, then got a call from a staffer who said her mother was doing well, only to find out she had, in fact, died, said Kevin Connolly, whose father-in-law is also a facility resident.

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“This is the level of incompetence we’re dealing with,” Connolly said at an emotional news conference in front of the Life Care Center in Kirkland.

The federal investigation of the nursing home will determine whether it followed guidelines for preventing infections. Last April, the state fined it $67,000 over infection-control deficiencies after two flu outbreaks.

The coronavirus has infected more than 98,000 people worldwide and killed over 3,300, the vast majority of them in China.

U.S. health officials said they expect a far lower death rate than the World Health Organization’s international estimate of 3.4 per cent — a high rate that doesn’t account for mild cases that go uncounted.


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