MANILA — (UPDATE) Several Filipino crew members of a cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco, California tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the vessel's operator said Sunday (Manila time).
The Grand Princess ship carrying some 3,500 crew and passengers, was scheduled to dock in San Francisco, California on Saturday after a 14-day cruise. It was held off the coast since Wednesday after 2 passengers who were on a previous voyage contracted the virus. One of them later died.
“Filipinos are a valuable part of our crew onboard the ships. Some of those individuals who tested positive are from the Philippines," said Dr. Grant Tarling, chief medical officer of cruise operator Carnival Corp.
He said they are "well at the moment and being isolated in their cabins" and being taken care of.
Tarling did not say how many Filipinos tested positive for the pathogen that has already infected some 100,000 people and killed more than 3,500 people worldwide, mostly in China. The ship has over 500 Filipino crew members.
The Philippine Consulate in San Francisco said it has been coordinating with US authorities and has contacted some of the Filipinos in the ship to check on their health and condition.
"Thus far, they seemed to be doing generally fine," the Consulate said.
The Consulate said it has requested US authorities to distribute a flyer for the Filipinos onboard to enable them to get in touch with the Philippine authorities.
The Grand Princess also has Filipino guests. They are not among the 2 guests who had caught the new coronavirus, said Jan Swartz, group president of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia.
The Grand Princess belongs to Princess Cruises, a unit of Carnival Corp. It is the same company that operated the Diamond Princess -- the coronavirus-stricken ship held off Japan last month from which more than 700 people tested positive and 6 died.
Eighty Filipino crew members of Diamond Princess caught the disease. Many of them have recovered and some have been allowed to return to the Philippines, the health department earlier said.
The Philippines has confirmed 6 cases of the novel coronavirus.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday "agreed" to declare a state of public health emergency, said his former longtime aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go.
With reports from TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse