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Airmen with the 129th Rescue Wing drop virus testing kits down to the Grand Princess cruise ship AP/PA Images
Coronavirus

Irish citizens on board California cruise ship where 21 people have tested positive for Covid-19

Donald Trump said that he would prefer if the passengers were not allowed to disembark – but left the decision to medical experts.

LAST UPDATE | 7 Mar 2020

A NUMBER OF Irish people are on board a mammoth cruise ship off the California coast where 21 people have tested positive for the coronavirus

TheJournal.ie understands that there are Irish citizens on board the Grand Princess cruise ship, which is currently moored off the San Francisco coast. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said that the “Irish consulate in San Francisco is in touch with local authorities and monitoring the situation closely”. 

“It is the department’s policy in providing consular assistance that commentary is not given on individual cases and the people or families involved.”

Federal officials have been working with the state and “we have developed a plan to bring the ship to a non-commercial port,” US Vice-President Mike Pence said.

“All passengers and crew will be tested for the virus. Those that will need to be quarantined will be quarantined. Those who will require medical help will receive it.”

Princess Cruises said 45 of the more than 3,500 people on board, which includes 140 Britons, were tested in the first round.

A military helicopter crew lowered test kits on to the 951 ft Grand Princess by rope on Thursday and later retrieved them for analysis as the vessel waited off San Francisco, under orders to keep its distance from shore.

virus-outbreak A group of medical personnel with the 129th Rescue Wing don protective equipment after delivering virus testing kits to the Grand Princess. AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

US President Donald Trump, speaking at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said he would have preferred not to let the passengers disembark on to American soil but will defer to the recommendations of medical experts.

He said: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.

And it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship either. Okay? It wasn’t their fault either. And they are mostly Americans.

Health officials trying to establish whether the virus is circulating on the Grand Princess undertook the testing after reporting that a passenger on a previous voyage of the ship, in February, died of the disease.

In the past few days, health authorities disclosed that at least nine other people who were on the same journey were also found to be infected. Some passengers on that trip stayed aboard for the current voyage.

“The ship will not come on shore until we appropriately assess the passengers,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday.

Another Princess cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama, Japan, last month because of the virus, and ultimately about 700 of the 3,700 people aboard became infected in what experts pronounced a public health failure.

A British man who had been aboard the cruise and contracted the virus died last week

With reporting from Dominic McGrath

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