Here's what's happening with the 235 Canadians stranded on the Grand Princess cruise ship
The 237 Canadians currently stranded on the Grand Princess cruise ship in California will be brought home by a chartered plane, the government has announced.
Passengers on the ship have been quarantined in their rooms since it was denied entry to its home port in San Francisco last week amid growing concerns over coronavirus cases in patients who took the same cruise not long ago, and after 35 passengers reported flu-like symptoms on board.
There are currently 3,533 people on the ship with 21 confirmed cases of the virus.
Prime Minister Trudeau in a photo op in Toronto confirms Canada 🇨🇦 will get the 237 Canadians aboard the Grand Princess off the ship & will bring them home. The ship is currently off the coast of San Francisco. 21 people have tested positive for the #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/IZssmPow5c— Simon Dingley@CBC (@SimonDingleyCBC) March 9, 2020
The Grand Princess announced yesterday that disembarkation of guests is expected to begin today in the Port of Oakland in order of priority, and the process is expected to take multiple days.
"The U.S. Coast Guard will be sending California Health & Human Services teams to assist with medical triage, screening and interviews, and prioritizing those who require the most acute care," they said in a statement.
"To avoid delays, testing will be conducted when guests arrive at their onward destination."
They said crew members will remain on board once disembarkation of the guests is completed, and plans for a crew quarantine are still being determined.
On the same day, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne said Canada has secured a plane to repatriate Canadians on board the Grand Princess.
"The extent and frequency of interaction amongst cruise passengers and the close quarters found on most cruise ships presents a unique environment where COVID-19 can easily spread," the government said in a statement.
"To ensure the health and safety of Canadians, passengers from the Grand Princess will be quarantined upon their return to Canada."
Canadians on the ship will be brought by plane from San Francisco to the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton. They'll then be assessed and undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Before boarding the plane, passengers will be screened for symptoms and will not be permitted on board if they exhibit any. They'll instead be further assessed to determine next steps.
Asked about Canadians on the Grand Princess, @PattyHajdu says nobody with symptoms will be allowed to board the plane to Canada. She also says passengers "may be" quarantined for longer than 14 days "depending on their symptoms"— Annie Bergeron-Oliver (@AnnieClaireBO) March 9, 2020
"Ensuring the health and safety of Canadians both at home and abroad remains our priority," Minister Champagne said in the statement.
"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."
This is now the second time that more than 200 Canadians have been quarantined on a ship due to COVID-19, following the Diamond Princess ship that was not allowed to dock in Japan in February.
At least 47 Canadians contracted the virus on that cruise, and a total of 705 passengers were infected leading to six deaths.
In light of this, the Public Health Agency of Canada is now recommending that Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel.
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