Twenty-one people on board a cruise ship stranded off the coast of San Francisco have tested positive for the new coronavirus, US Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday.
“Among those positive for coronavirus were 19 crew members and two passengers,” said Mr Pence, who has been tasked by President Donald Trump to coordinate the US government’s response to the outbreak.
Mr Pence said the ship will be brought to a non-commercial dock this weekend, and all 3,533 passengers and crew will be tested.
Earlier, passengers, including four Australians, had been instructed to stay in their cabins as they wait for the test results.
A US military helicopter crew lowered test kits onto the 290-metre-long Grand Princess by a rope on Friday and later retrieved them for analysis at a lab as the vessel lay at sea off San Francisco, under orders to keep its distance from shore.
Princess Cruises said at the time that 45 people were selected for testing.
“The ship will not come onshore until we appropriately assess the passengers,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said.
Mr Pence said: “We will be testing everyone on the ship and quarantining as necessary. But, with regard to the 1,100-member crew, we anticipate that they will be quarantined on the ship.”
Testing has begun
Michele Smith, a Grand Princess passenger, posted a video on Facebook of the helicopter that arrived at the ship.
Another video showed a crew member wearing gloves and a mask and spraying and wiping a handrail.
“We have crews constantly cleaning our ship,” Ms Smith was heard saying.
In a post, Ms Smith said she and her husband were not quarantined and were told that only the people who had been on the Mexico voyage or those showing flu-like symptoms had to isolate themselves.
“Spirits are as high as can be under these circumstances. We are blessed to be healthy, comfortable and well-fed,” she wrote.
But a late-night statement on Thursday from the cruise line said all guests were asked to stay in their rooms while results were awaited, in keeping with guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.