520 Filipino crew aboard cruise ship held off in California due to suspected COVID-19


Posted at Mar 05 2020 04:45 PM | Updated as of Mar 05 2020 09:36 PM

"Grand Princess" stays on dock in St Petersburg port, May 24, 2004. Thousands were stranded on the ship off the California coast Wednesday over coronavirus fears after passengers and crew members on board developed symptoms. Interpress/AFP Stringer/File

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Some 520 Filipino crew members were among thousands stranded on a cruise ship off California due to suspected cases of the novel coronavirus, their local recruitment firm said Thursday.

Marlon Roño, president and chief executive officer of Magsaysay People Resources Corp., said tests were conducted on those who may have contracted the disease.

The recruitment firm is waiting for test results but assured the families of the Filipino crew members they are safe.

The crew will finish their 14-day mandatory quarantine on Friday, Roño said, and will wait for their results.

"So far, OK naman sila," Roño told radio DZMM.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is also coordinating with its office in San Francisco.

"We’re confirming the details with the companies involved and with our consulate in San Francisco," said Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez of the DFA's strategic communication and research.

US officials delayed the return of the Grand Princess to San Francisco on Wednesday night from Hawaii to test possible cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

A 71-year-old male passenger died after contracting the illness, becoming the first fatal case in California, the operator Princess Cruises said.

Eleven passengers and 10 crew members were potentially infected with the virus, California Governor Gavin Newsom said.

Around 62 passengers who remained on board from the earlier Mexico voyage were restricted to their rooms for testing, the Princess Cruises company said in a statement.

The ship held about 2,500 passengers plus crew, said Newsom. According to the company's website, the vessel is manned by 1,150 crew.

The Grand Princess belongs to Princess Cruises, the same company that operated the coronavirus-stricken ship held off Japan in February on which more than 700 people on board tested positive. 

—With reports from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News and Agence-France Presse