142 Britons stranded on coronavirus cruise ship the Grand Princess

Revealed: 142 Britons are on coronavirus cruise ship Grand Princess as it remains stranded off California while medics test passengers

  • Cruise operator said groups of guests and crew now being tested for Covid-19
  • Princess added that there had so far been no confirmed cases of virus on board
  • Last week a Briton died on one of the company’s other ships, Diamond Princess 

More than 100 Britons are stranded on board a cruise ship off the coast of California where medics are testing passengers for coronavirus, it emerged last night. 

Princess Cruises said 142 UK nationals – made up of 121 passengers and 21 crew – were on board the Grand Princess which is carrying a total of 3,533 people. 

Guests have been confined to their cabins in the latest cruise ship virus scare after a US tourist from a previous voyage died of coronavirus in California and at least four other people were infected. 

The US Coast Guard was yesterdady airlifting coronavirus test kits to the cruise ship, with dozens of passengers now facing medical tests.  

More than 100 Britons are stranded on board a cruise ship off the coast of California where medics are testing passengers for coronavirus, it emerged last night 

The US Coast Guard delivered coronavirus test kits on Thursday to the Grand Princess cruise ship that is being held 400 miles off the California coast amid fears of a suspected outbreak

The Coast Guard approaches the Grand Princess cruise ship to deliver test kits to more than 3,500 people stranded on the ship about 400 miles of the coast of San Francisco

An initial group of 45 people have been identified for testing, Princess Cruises said last night. 

They include passengers from last month’s Mexico voyage – on which the man who later died had travelled last month – who stayed on for the current Hawaii trip.  

Guests ‘who have experienced influenza-like illness symptoms on this voyage, and guests currently under care for respiratory illness’ are also among the patients due to be tested. 

The California National Guard said it had flown test kits to the ship Thursday morning and the findings were expected to be announced early Friday. 

A military helicopter yesterday lowered the test kits onto the deck of the ship by rope and later retrieved them to be sent to a lab in Richmond, California.  

Dozens of passengers have had flu-like symptoms over the past two weeks or so, said Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director of San Francisco’s emergency department. 

‘Once we have results from the tests,’ she said, authorities ‘will determine the best location for the ship to berth.’ 

California governor Gavin Newsom said that ‘the ship will not come on shore until we appropriately assess the passengers’.  

One passenger, Carolyn Wright, said passengers had initially been free to roam about the ship but yesterday were told after lunch to remain in their cabins. 

‘I think it’s all closing the barn after the horse has left,’ she said. ‘I’m not really worried. If you look at the odds, our risk is pretty low.’  

An employee sprays down the common areas of the Grand Princess cruise ship with disinfectant

Those being tested include passengers from the earlier Mexico voyage – on which the man who later died had travelled last month – who stayed on for the current Hawaii trip

Wright said the passengers – most of them between 60 and 90 years old – were in good spirits ‘although that may change if we are stuck in our cabins for too long.’ 

Health officials said it was unclear when or where the ship would be allowed to dock. 

Authorities raised the alarm after the 71-year-old California man who sailed on the ship in February died of coronavirus, becoming the state’s first fatal case. 

Two other passengers from that voyage have been taken to hospital with the virus in California, while two Canadians who recently travelled on the ship have also tested positive after returning home. 

Officials say the dead man and another sick patient are likely to have contracted the virus while they were aboard the ocean liner. 

The second patient, from the San Francisco Bay area, was described by California governor Newsom as gravely sick.  

However, the cruise line says there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the passengers currently on board the ship.  

‘Public health officials have advised that no guests will be permitted to disembark until all results have been received,’ it said. 

‘Out of an abundance of caution, all guests who have been identified for testing have been asked to remain in their staterooms.’

Overall, there are 3,533 people currently on board the Grand Princess, including 2,422 guests and 1,111 crew, of 54 nationalities. 

The ship off California was returning to San Francisco after visiting Hawaii. Some of the passengers remained on board after sailing on its previous voyage, to the Mexican ports of Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. 

The Grand Princess is currently 400 miles off San Francisco and heading for port having returned from Hawaii after 11 passengers and 10 crew reported symptoms of coronavirus 

The number of cases rose above 96,000 worldwide with over 3,300 deaths in some 85 countries

Health authorities have had a suspicious eye on cruise ships in recent weeks after a number of voyages were disrupted by virus scares.

In the most serious case, 705 people tested positive for the virus on board the Diamond Princess during a two-week lockdown in Japan.  

Japanese authorities said last week that a British tourist who had been on board the Diamond Princess had died after contracting coronavirus.

On Thursday, a patient with underlying health conditions became the first person in the UK to die after also testing positive for the virus. 

Separately, the cruise ship Westerdam was turned away at five ports last month before it finally arrived in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville. There were no cases on board.  

Several other ships have had their journeys disrupted by the virus after passengers required urgent tests or countries refused them permission to dock.  

Experts have highlighted a number of reasons why cruise ships are vulnerable to the spread of disease, including the large number of elderly passengers in a confined space. 

There have also been fears that air-conditioning systems could spread the virus, with experts pointing out that ventilation systems were previously linked to the spread of SARS.  

Some passengers have started to cancel cruise ship bookings or abandon plans to make them as the virus continues to spread around the world.  

Cruise ships have also taken preventative measures themselves, with Royal Caribbean turning away guests with passports from China, Hong Kong and Macau and guarding against arrivals from Italy, Iran and South Korea.  

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