OAKLAND :Thousands of passengers aboard a cruise ship struck by the novel coronavirus waited anxiously Tuesday for their chance to leave the vessel, even if it meant being shipped to military bases for weeks of quarantine.
After days of being forced to idle off the Northern California coast, the Grand Princess docked Monday at the Port of Oakland with some 3,500 passengers and crew on board.
“Everyone was hollering and clapping” as the giant vessel sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and entered the harbor, passenger Karen Schwartz Dever said.
About two dozen people who need acute medical care were taken off the ship, although it wasn’t clear how many had tested positive for the new virus, 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, including hundreds of Californians, were still aboard by the time disembarkation ended Monday night. It was to resume Tuesday morning, the captain told passengers.
The Grand Princess had been held off the coast since Wednesday because of evidence that it was the breeding ground for more than 20 infections tied to a previous voyage.
About 1,100 crew members, 19 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, which will dock elsewhere after passengers are unloaded, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said.
Around the world, nations have limited the movements of millions of people in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Italy was to impose travel restrictions and other strict public health measures nationwide starting Tuesday.
The virus has shaken global markets, with stocks taking their worst one-day beating on Wall Street since 2008 and oil prices suffering their most brutal losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War. Even with Asian markets posting modest gains Tuesday, fear was rampant that economies stood at the brink of recession.
According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered
Several universities have begun online-only courses, including the University of Washington, Stanford University and Columbia University....