Published: Tue, March 10, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Grand Princess finally about to dock. Here's why officials picked Oakland

Grand Princess finally about to dock. Here's why officials picked Oakland

The Grand Princess pulled into the Port of Oakland with more than 3500 people aboard - 21 infected with the new virus.

Newsom and the mayor of Oakland sought to reassure the public that none of the Grand Princess passengers would be exposed to the U.S. public before completing the quarantine.

"I've been clear with our state and federal partners", she said, "this is a community that has suffered decades of environmental racism and injustice".

'Everyone was hollering and clapping as we entered the harbour, ' she added.

The Port of Oakland was chosen for docking because of its proximity to an airport and a military base, California Governor Gavin Newsom said.

"That ship will turn around - and they are now assessing appropriate places to bring that quarantined ship - but it will not be here in the San Francisco Bay", he said.

Shortly before the ship landed on Monday, Newsom and the mayor of Oakland sought to reassure the public that none of the Grand Princess passengers would be exposed to the public before completing quarantine.

Cruise ships have been at the centre of efforts around the world to control the virus' spread.

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Princess Cruises also operated the Diamond Princess cruise, which was quarantined for a time in Yokohama, Japan, as more than 700 people tested positive for coronavirus.

After being left to float around San Francisco Bay over the weekend while plans were put in place, the ship docked this afternoon at Oakland.

"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".

The remaining guests, including 1,540 Californians, simply disembarked with no knowledge of an outbreak aboard. Most were slated to go into quarantine at four military bases across the country, with those requiring immediate medical attention heading to hospitals.

Canada's top hospitals, represented by Health CareCAN, say they need help now to expand respiratory virus testing, to collaborate on laboratory analysis to quickly share data with other hospitals, and to protect staff amid a COVID-19 outbreak that has arrived in flu season, according to the national advocacy group for health-care organizations and hospitals.

Debbie Loftus, a passenger from Wisconsin, said she was pleased Newsom spoke directly to passengers and thought the news conference, which she watched, represented a "change in attitude".

"It is nice that he is now welcoming us into California; a few days ago he did not want us anywhere near his state", Loftus said. The Diamond Princess ship saw almost 700 people contract the virus on board while quarantined in Japan in February. In the end, almost 700 people among the 3,700 passengers tested positive for the disease, and at least six people have died.

It will take several days for the vessel to disembark; the vessel is carrying 2,421 passengers and 1,113 crew members, with American passengers transferred to screening, quarantine, and treatment facilities on land.

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