Regal Princess cruise held off Florida coast as 2 crew await coronavirus testing

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Another Princess Cruises’ vessel has been prevented from docking at a U.S. port over the novel coronavirus, though no cases of it have been confirmed on board.

In a statement to Global News, Princess Cruises said that the Regal Princess cruise ship was stopped from disembarking at a port in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) until two of its crew members were tested for COVID-19.

The two crew members previously served on the Grand Princess, which has been floating off the coast of California over fears of an outbreak on board.

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Princess Cruises said that despite “sharing” all of their crew information to the CDC, they were still not allowed to dock and were forced to cancel the March 8 trip of the Regal Princess, offering full refunds in cruise fare and future cruise credit.

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The CDC has not yet responded to Global News’ request for comment.

“Neither of these crew members are exhibiting respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and are well beyond CDC’s advised 14-day incubation period for the illness,” Princess Cruises’ statement read.

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“Therefore, based on U.S. CDC’s published COVID-19 guidance, these crew members should not pose any risks to the health and welfare of anyone aboard Regal Princess.”

The Grand Princess has since been granted access to dock in Oakland, where it is scheduled to arrive Monday.
The vessel is currently carrying more than 3,500 people from over 50 countries and at least 19 of the 21 people who tested positive for the virus on the ship are crew members.
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In a statement emailed to Global News on Saturday, Global Affairs Canada said that Grand Princess currently had 237 Canadians on board. They did not have confirmation however on the nationalities of those who had tested positive for the virus.

In a statement emailed to Global News Monday morning, Global Affairs Canada said it was “monitoring the situation” on the Regal Princess but that to date, it had not received any reports of Canadians affected by the situation.

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After a meeting with cruise industry officials Saturday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said they were tracking a cruise ship that may have shared crew with another ship carrying several positive cases of the virus.

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“We are tracking at this point a ship that may have shared crew with the Diamond Princess or the Grand Princess and we’ve taken decisive action to hold until we do a full medical assessment of the crew on that ship,” said Pence, who did not name the vessel in question.

Pence also said that both the U.S. and the cruise industry would work to expand testing and safety protocols for the new disease within the next few days.

The vice president’s comments come after nearly 700 people were confirmed to have COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined last month in Yokohama, Japan.

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Health officials in Japan were criticized heavily over their efforts to contain the disease on board the ship — which eventually resulted in the death of six people, according to Saturday’s World Health Organization situation report.

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— With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

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