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Grand Princess will be held off California coast for coronavirus screening

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Passengers who were continuing from the prior cruise were instructed to remain in their cabins until cleared by the ship's medical staff
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Grand Princess will be held off the coast of California so health officials can assess the ship after two people on the previous cruise got coronavirus. One died.

Grand Princess is returning early from a Hawaii trip as health officials looked into a 'small cluster' of coronavirus cases in Northern California linked to the previous sailing, Feb. 11-21.

First California death from coronavirus

A Placer County resident who died was likely infected while on the ship, becoming California's first COVID-19 fatality. He had underlying health issues. A Sonoma County resident who had been on the same trip also tested positive.

Newsom said 11 passengers and 10 crew on the current cruise were showing symptoms and that health officials would be boarding to make an assessment before Grand Princess is allowed to dock.

CDC investigation

Princess Cruises Chief Medical Officer Dr. Grant Tarling said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the line today of the investigation. Grand Princess is skipping its planned Ensenada call in order to return to San Francisco Thursday afternoon.

Passengers who were continuing from the previous voyage — 62, according to Princess — and may have been exposed were required by the CDC to remain in their cabins until they were contacted and cleared by the ship's medical staff. The same goes for crew who may have been in close proximity to the travelers who later came down with the virus. 

Passengers on the previous cruise were being notified to contact their medical provider if they have experienced any symptoms of acute respiratory illness with fever, chills or cough since returning home.

Tarling said the CDC was continuing to collect information and meeting with Princess to determine what actions need to be taken now and on arrival in San Francisco. The line has shared travel and health data with the CDC to facilitate their standard notification to the state and county health authorities to follow up with individuals who may have been exposed to the people who became ill.

Close monitoring/enhanced sanitation

'We are closely recording and monitoring all persons who have reported to the medical center with cold and flu symptoms during the voyage. As a precaution, we are also conducting additional enhanced environmental disinfection on board in addition to our regular stringent cleaning and sanitation protocols,' Tarling said.

Passengers were instructed to immediately report any symptoms of acute respiratory illness to the medical center. Everyone was being provided free Wi-Fi and shoreside hotlines for family members were set up.

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