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Virus-hit US cruise ship to dock in Oakland

By AI HEPING | China Daily | Updated: 2020-03-09 06:00
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File photo of Grand Princess. [Photo/Xinhua]

Vessel has 21 cases, including 19 crew; Italy imposes quarantine measures 

Amid growing risks posed by the novel coronavirus outbreak, a virus-hit US cruise ship stranded off the coast of San Francisco has been given permission to dock in Oakland.

The Grand Princess cruise ship has recorded 21 infections on board-19 crew and two passengers-out of 46 passengers who were tested, officials said. The ship was returning from a cruise to Hawaii when it was held off the California coast.

The vessel will go to nearby Oakland on Monday and begin disembarking passengers in need of "acute medical treatment", said Princess Cruises, the vessel's owner.

The ship's crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, the company added.

Meanwhile, at California's Long Beach harbor on Saturday passengers on the cruise ship Carnival Panorama were not allowed off while officials dealt with a "medical matter", according to a Facebook post by the cruise director.

Long Beach city officials said on Twitter that a passenger on the cruise was taken to a local hospital and is being tested for the coronavirus. The ship is docked at a Long Beach terminal, but "in an abundance of caution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has decided to hold passengers on board until the patient can be evaluated".

The US death toll from coronavirus rose to 19 as Washington state on Saturday reported two more deaths as cases jumped to 108. Two people have died in Florida, one in California and 16 in Washington state as hundreds of cases of infection have been reported around the country.

The country's capital also confirmed its first presumptive positive case for the virus, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Saturday.

An attendee at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in the Washington suburb of Oxon Hill, Maryland, which US President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence also attended, has tested positive, the American Conservative Union said on Saturday.

Deaths in the US have been heavily concentrated in Washington's King County, 15 as of Saturday, where an outbreak at a nursing home infected many of the elderly residents, who are among the most vulnerable to the virus.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus in order to have "a more expedited purchasing and testing protocol".

The number of confirmed cases rose by 13 on Saturday to a statewide total of 89 people, he said.

"I have officially done a declaration of emergency which gives us certain powers. We're going to be doing purchasing and hiring more staff, especially to help local health departments that are very stressed," Cuomo said.

"We have a more expedited purchasing and testing protocol and we're going to be doing that."

Cuomo also criticized as insufficient the state's appropriation of $35 million from the $8.5 billion coronavirus funding bill signed by US President Donald Trump on Friday. He said the state has been spending $30 million a week on its coronavirus response.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert on Friday joined other governors who have declared a state of emergency, calling the decision a move to help prepare for the "arrival of novel coronavirus".

Hours later the state health department announced the first confirmed case, a patient said to be over 60.

The 34th annual edition of South by Southwest, the annual festival of music, film and technology in Austin, Texas, that has become a global draw, was ordered canceled on Friday by local officials over fears about the spread of coronavirus.

The festival was to have run over March 13-22. Last year South by Southwest's various events had a combined attendance of 417,000, including 159,000 who attended the music portion, according to festival figures.

The National Basketball Association asked teams to begin making contingency plans if they have to play games without any attendance because of the coronavirus.

Los Angeles Lakers all-star forward LeBron James said on Friday that he would not play in an empty arena.

Amtrak announced three Acela trains that run between Washington and New York will be suspended beginning Tuesday until the end of May because of reduced demand as a result of the coronavirus virus.

Amtrak said it is increasing the frequency of cleaning on those trains and stations to multiple times a day and hourly in some cases. It is also increasing the use of disinfectants to wipe down handrails, doorknobs and surfaces.

Xinhua and agencies contributed to this story.

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