The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informed Princess Cruise today that the CDC is investigating coronavirus cases in California connected to a previous cruise on the Grand Princess. This Princess ship sailed on a round-trip cruise from San Francisco from February 11th to February 21st.

According to the Sacramento Bee newspaper, an “older adult” (age not disclosed) was likely exposed to the virus while on the Grand Princess which sailed from San Francisco to Mexico.  The cruise guest is “critically ill” and in isolation at a local hospital according to this newspaper. (See update below – this patient has died).

A second passenger has also been diagnosed with coronavirus which involved the same Grand Princess ship, according to the Press Democrat. This person had taken a shuttle from the San Francisco port to a local airport. The newspaper reported that efforts are underway on finding other passengers who also took the shuttle.

The Grand Princess is now cancelling its call to Ensenada, Mexico scheduled for tomorrow in order to sail directly to San Francisco.

Princess emailed a “health advisory letter” to guests who sailed on the prior cruise aboard the Grand Princess. A similar letter was distributed to the current passengers who are currently sailing on the current cruise and may have been exposed to the virus.  The letter, which you can read here, states in part:

“For those guests who sailed w

with us on our prior voyage and may have been exposed . . . the CDC requires you to remain in your stateroom until you have been contacted and cleared by our medical staff. A member of our medical team will be calling you between the hours of 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM this morning. You may order room service while you wait for the medical screening to be completed . . . ”

There is no statement regarding whether crew members are also quarantined in their cabins, or whether they are required to continue to provide services to the guests as was done in the disastrous Diamond Princess quarantine in Yokohama, Japan. If the crew has been pressed into continued service, is Princess equipping the employees with appropriate masks, glasses, gloves and other suitable personal protection equipment (PPE) and training?

This outbreak may present a worst-case scenario. New passengers who are currently on the Princess ship will soon discover whether they are infected with coronavirus from the prior cruise. There are some guests on the ship who were on the prior cruise and took back-to-back cruises including the current itinerary. And the virus is likely to spread by passengers who left the Grand Princess and have taken cabs, buses and planes and interacted with the public after leaving the ship nearly two weeks ago.

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March 4, 2010 Update: The “critically ill” passenger with coronavirus died, according to a Placier county press release.

USA TODAY writes that “thousands of people on Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess may have been exposed to coronavirus after sailing with 62 passengers who company officials say had previously been on a voyage with a man who eventually died from the virus.” The newspaper further states that “there are 11 passengers and 10 crew members who have reported symptoms of coronavirus on board.”

Photo credit: Ivan T., CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.