Passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship are waiting to leave the vessel that docked Monday after days of being forced to idle off the Northern California coast due to novel coronavirus.
The ship docked Monday at the Port of Oakland. Officials have been preparing the port site with fences and medical tents
There are more than 3,500 people on board the Grand Princess, including 21 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Passengers who have so far showed no signs of illness will be quarantined for 14 days at one of four military sites, including Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
About two dozen people who need acute medical care were taken off the ship, said Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the California Office of Emergency Services.
Many of the nearly 240 Canadians on board left the ship after the critically ill and stood outside two tents displaying Canadian flags. Canada and the UK were among the countries sending chartered flights to retrieve their citizens.
But some 2,000 passengers were still aboard by the time disembarkation ended Monday night. It was to resume Tuesday morning, the captain told passengers.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services officials have notified JBSA-Lackland that nearly 1,000 passengers that are California residents are expected to undergo the quarantine at Travis Air Force Base and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
Non-California residents will be taken to JBSA-Lackland or Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia for quarantine.
The Department of State was working with the home countries of several hundred passengers to arrange their repatriation.
The 1,113-member crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, which will dock elsewhere, according to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Grant Tarling, chief medical officer for Carnival Corporation, said it’s believed a 71-year-old Northern California man who later died of the virus was probably sick when he boarded the ship for a Feb. 11 cruise to Mexico.
The passenger visited the medical center the day before disembarking with symptoms of respiratory illness, he said. He likely infected his dining room server, who also tested positive for the virus, Tarling said, as did two people traveling with the man.
On Sunday, the U.S. State Department issued an advisory against travel on cruise ships.
“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship," the department said in a statement on its website. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment."