The captain of a cruise ship hit by the new coronavirus has informed the passengers, which include 237 Canadians, that the vessel is now headed to the port of Oakland, Calif.
In a ship-board address Saturday night, Grand Princess Capt. John Smith said the vessel would likely dock Sunday afternoon and that people needing ”acute medical treatment” would be taken to health-care facilities in California.
Smith said other guests would be taken to federally operated isolation sites or transported out of California, however, he noted that he had been not given any specific information about non-U.S. citizens.
So far, two passengers and 19 crew members, whose nationalities have not yet been disclosed, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The ship, with more than 3,500 people aboard, and has been idling off the coast of San Francisco for the several days now waiting for clearance to dock.
In light of the situation aboard the Grand Princess and other cruise ships recently plagued by COVID-19 outbreaks, Canadian health officials are now advising people to avoid cruise ship travel.
Meanwhile, British Columbia declared an outbreak of the novel coronavirus at a North Vancouver long-term care home on Saturday, saying two elderly residents were recently diagnosed with the virus along with four others in the province.
Chief provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the two cases followed an earlier diagnosis of a care worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre, making them especially concerning as examples of community transmission.
The care home is now following an outbreak protocol that restricts visitors and imposes “infection control precautions” on all staff interactions at the facility.
At least 57 people in Canada have COVID-19, with 27 confirmed cases in B.C., 28 in Ontario and two in Quebec. There are also two presumptive cases in Alberta that have yet to be confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
A growing list of events are being cancelled in Canada and around the world in anticipation of fewer people travelling to and from infected areas.
The women’s world hockey championship slated to begin this month in Halifax and Truro, N.S., the 2020 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, and the South by Southwest Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas, have all been cancelled to prevent the spread of the virus.
And on Saturday Tim Hortons got rid of the cups for its annual “Roll Up the Rim” contest, saying “the current public health environment” means “it’s not the right time for team members…to collect rolled up tabs that have been in people’s mouths.”