Published: Mon, March 09, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Government charters plane to bring home Canadians aboard Grand Princess

Government charters plane to bring home Canadians aboard Grand Princess

Princess Cruises officials said it was expected to arrive on Monday - carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries.

Financial markets have been rattled by the outbreak and a shakeup in the oil market - and trading on the New York Stock Exchange was halted for 15 minutes Monday morning, when the S&P 500 index plummeted 7% just minutes after the open of business.

A man in his 40s from the Edmonton area was confirmed on Sunday as having contracted COVID-19.

There are now more than 100,000 cases worldwide, with the largest group still in China.

Canada's top public-health doctor now recommends Canadians avoid travelling on all cruise ships to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The United States State Department issued a travel warning to USA citizens against going on a cruise ship because of Coronavirus fears.

On Friday, the USA government confirmed that 21 people on the ship had tested positive for the virus, including 19 crew members.

The Caribbean Princess, now on a 10-day cruise out of Port Everglades, will stop in Grand Cayman on Monday to pick up test kits, and samples will be sent from there to the USA for testing, the letter from Princess Cruises said.

The Grand Princess, with 21 confirmed coronavirus infections among 3,500 people on board, is due to dock in nearby Oakland Monday.

Coronavirus State of Emergency Declared in New York State
During the press conference, Cuomo said one of the priorities for NY state is testing: "We are testing aggressively". Andrew Cuomo says that NY state's coronavirus caseload has risen over the past day from 44 to 89.

Both had previously worked on the Grand Princess but do not have symptoms. At least one other case, in Nevada, has also been linked to that same voyage.

The operation to move passengers from the Grand Princess will be a "two-three day process", Governor Gavin Newsom told a news conference on Sunday. The remainder will be divided into several groups, depending on where they're from.

But while communication with friends and family has been frequent, the opposite is true when it comes to getting updates from Princess Cruises. "Depending on where they're from, other US citizens are going to be taken to bases in Georgia and Texas". And then there are hundreds of foreign passengers.

The State Department emphasized this warning is particularly important to travelers with underlying health conditions, who may be more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19. "Canada's sending a plane to collect 200 of its citizens".

A grandmother has said she is going "stir crazy" on board a coronavirus-hit cruise ship. Test kits were sent to the ship, and Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that 19 crew members and two passengers aboard had tested positive for the virus.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu added that Canadians who can not get on the plane "will be cared for by the US healthcare system, and our consular services will remain in close contact throughout the duration of their illness". No one will be quarantined in the city, and no passengers will be released into the general public, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said.

Authorities say they're still working to track the patient's movements.

An epidemiologist who studies the spread of virus particles said the recirculated air from a cruise ship's ventilation system, plus the close quarters and communal settings, make passengers and crew vulnerable to infectious diseases.

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