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Coronavirus: Grand Princess cruise ship carrying 237 Canadians to dock in California

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A cruise ship that’s been floating off the coast of California for days amid coronavirus concerns is set to dock in Oakland today, setting the stage for Ottawa to bring the 237 Canadians aboard the Grand Princess back home.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Government chartering plane for Canadians on Grand Princess

Global Affairs Canada announced late yesterday that it had chartered a plane to fly the stranded Canadians to the air force base in Trenton, though it did not provide a timeline for when that would happen.

There are 21 people diagnosed with COVID-19 aboard the Grand Princess, which is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries. There’s no word on the nationalities of the patients.

The ship had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of at least 20 cases, including one death, after a previous voyage. Several people in Canada aboard that earlier voyage have since tested positive for the illness.

Those currently on the Grand Princess will be screened for symptoms before they board the plane, and the passengers who exhibit them will stay in the U.S. for further assessment. Passengers without any symptoms will be quarantined for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada, the government said.

“We are working hard to help Canadians return home and make sure appropriate measures are in place to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19,” Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a written statement.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Booked a cruise and want to cancel? Here’s what you need to know

“The decision to repatriate Canadians on board the Grand Princess follows a request for assistance from the government of the United States, recognizing the importance of closely working together to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

Ottawa has recommended against cruise ship vacations in the wake of the international COVID-19 outbreak, saying the frequent interaction and close quarters on board serve as a breeding ground for the virus.

Last month, 129 Canadians and their families were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, where they had been confined to their cabins as the vessel was docked in Yokohama.

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