Princess Cruises said Wednesday that it had issued a “Health Advisory Letter” to guests who are currently aboard — or were recently aboard — the Grand Princess cruise liner, following news that the CDC was investigating a “small cluster” of COVID-19 cases “connected to” the ship’s previous sailing.
The advisory also urged anyone who believes they may be experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus to contact their medical providers immediately.
The letter, which was also posted to the Princess Cruises website, was attributed to Dr. Grant Tarling, Princess Cruises’ chief medical officer.
“I wish to advise you that today we have been notified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that they are investigating a small cluster of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in Northern California connected to our previous Grand Princess voyage that sailed roundtrip San Francisco from Feb. 11 to Feb. 21,” the letter reads, in part.
“We are working closely with our CDC partners and are following their recommendations.”
Per Tarling’s letter, the CDC advised anyone who had sailed on the previous voyage, and also on the current voyage, to “remain in your stateroom” until contacted by medical staff.
Tarling added that Princess Cruises was working closely with the CDC, and also meeting with them on Wednesday, to determine “what, if any actions need to be taken during this cruise and on arrival in San Francisco.” Princess Cruises would also be sharing information with the CDC regarding previous passengers who may have been exposed, so they could be notified.
As a result of these developments, Princess Cruises had canceled the Grand Princess’ planned March 5 stop in Ensenada, Mexico, to instead sail directly back to San Francisco.
The letter also included steps for reducing the likelihood of spreading or contracting the novel coronavirus. A full copy of the letter can be found on Princess Cruises’ website.
On Wednesday, the same day the letter was issued, public health authorities in Placer County, Calif., reported the state’s first death from COVID-19, in a patient believed to have been exposed during the previous Grand Princess voyage.
“Preliminary understanding from the contact investigation is that this patient had minimal community exposure between returning from the cruise and arriving at the hospital by ambulance on Feb. 27,” per a press release from Placer County.
The current sailing of the Grand Princess departed from San Francisco on Feb. 21, with scheduled stops in Hawaii and Mexico. Princess Cruises was not immediately available to confirm how many passengers were aboard the current or previous sailing.
Princess Cruises also operated the Diamond Princess liner, which was recently quarantined at a port in Japan following a coronavirus outbreak that infected hundreds of passengers.