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Tallahassee couple among those quarantined on Grand Princess cruise ship over coronavirus concerns

Posted at 10:42 AM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 11:58:45-04

(WTXL) — A Tallahassee couple is among those expected to disembark the Grand Princess cruise ship where at least 21 people on board have tested positive for coronavirus.

According to CNN, Mark Pace and his wife Beth were quarantined on the cruise ship with 3,500 other passengers.

ABC News reports the cruise ship has been kept offshore for four days as health officials tested people on board for COVID-19. The tests began after it was discovered that the vessel had previously carried two people who contracted coronavirus.

At least 21 people on board have tested positive, officials said. The passengers aboard the ship are set to disembark on Monday.

The disembarkation process will take place over multiple days and in order of priority, according to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Infected persons will get off the boat first and will be taken to local hospitals. Next, California residents will be taken to either the Travis Air Force Base or Marine Corps Air Station Miramar for a 14-day quarantine.

After that, all other passengers will get off and go to either Lackland Air Force Base in Texas or Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia for a 14-day quarantine, while foreigners will be repatriated on chartered flights, according to Newsom.

Each person getting off the ship will be tested multiple times until they are negative for COVID-19.

After the cases of the virus were identified, the ship attempted to take safety precautions and asked the passengers to practice "social distancing" by standing about six feet away from each other.

Pace told CNN that while they weren't completely confined to their rooms, they were required to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer in order to eat at the buffet.

"And crew handled everything. We were not allowed to serve ourselves," he told CNN.

Princess Cruises also operated the Diamond Princess, a ship that was stuck for weeks in February off the coast of Japan after passengers tested positive for the coronavirus. Ultimately, about 700 passengers tested positive for the virus and seven people died.

The CDC has offered some tips it believes will help prevent the spread of the disease.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

And if you get develop mild symptoms, the World Health Organization recommends staying home.
"Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover," the WHO said. "Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses."

One problem with the coronavirus compared to similar diseases is that not every person carrying the disease will show significant symptoms. This could mean someone could spread the disease to someone else without them knowing it.