Infection-hit cruise ship to dock

Top News | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 9 Mar 2020

A US cruise ship hit by coronavirus was given permission to dock today, while New York announced a state of emergency as confirmed cases across the country surged past 400.

The fast-spreading virus has already reached 30 US states, killing at least 19 people, while the American capital announced its first case and citizens were coming to terms with public events being canceled across the country.

The Grand Princess cruise ship has recorded 21 Covid-19 infections on board - 19 crew and two American passengers - out of 45 people tested.

Authorities ordered the vessel to remain at sea off the coast of San Francisco following a 14-day trip to Hawaii after it emerged that a passenger on a previous voyage had contracted the virus and later died.

The vessel will instead go to nearby Oakland today and begin disembarking passengers in need of acute medical treatment, vessel owner Princess Cruises said.

Passenger Kari Kolstoe, 60, said she had stage-four cancer and was worried she would not make it home in time to start chemotherapy treatment today.

"I'm in extremely delicate health right now," said Kolstoe, who is traveling with her husband,

Vice President Mike Pence, who is managing the US response to the outbreak, said earlier that all 3,533 passengers and crew would be tested and quarantined if necessary.

The fate of the Grand Princess is reminiscent of the Diamond Princess, a sister vessel that suffered its own coronavirus outbreak while moored off the coast of Japan.

Further south in Los Angeles, passengers aboard another cruise ship were told they must remain on the vessel overnight. The order came after a woman was taken off the Carnival Panorama to be tested for the virus.

Nationwide, more than 400 people have contracted the virus so far, with dozens of new cases emerging daily.

New York became the latest state to declare an emergency as the number of patients there rose to 89, including a driver who apparently worked for ride-sharing company Uber.

The announcement came as the first US service member stationed at home tested positive.

Maryland officials also reported that two people who were at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference attended by Pence and President Donald Trump had tested positive for the virus.

Starbucks reported that one of its employees in downtown Seattle had tested positive, and the store shut for cleaning.

Asked whether he was worried about the virus getting closer to the White House, Trump said he was "not concerned at all."

He also said he did not plan to cut his public engagements.

Public events have been canceled across the United States in an effort to contain the epidemic. Casualties include Texas-based South by Southwest festival, a Mariah Carey concert, the Facebook F8 Developers Conference, Miami's Ultra Music Festival and several university sports events.

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