A MILITARY helicopter lowered coronavirus test kits to a cruise ship on Thursday following the death of a traveler from its previous voyage.
The test kits were delivered by the National Guard copter to the Grand Princess, which has 3,500 passengers and has been ordered to stay away from the coast of California.
A 71-year-old man who sailed on the ship last month died from the coronavirus on Wednesday.
A Canadian man in his 60s from that voyage has also tested positive, and two other passengers from have been hospitalized.
Princess Cruise Lines has said that fewer than 100 people on the ship had been identified for testing.
“The ship will not come on shore until we appropriately assess the passengers,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The governor had previously said that 21 people on the cruise ship may have shown coronavirus symptoms.
Newsom declared a state of emergency in California on Wednesday.
The cruise line said that no cases of the virus had been confirmed among those still on the ship, but dozens have had flu-like symptoms over the past two weeks, according to Mary Ellen Carroll of San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management.
"Once we have results from the tests," she said, authorities "will determine the best location for the ship to berth.”
Video from the California National Guard shows the helicopter approaching the the ship and lowering three paratroopers into an empty area with a swimming pool.
The helicopter was scheduled to retrieve the kits later Thursday for delivery to a lab in California.
The test results could be processed in a few hours.
Some of the current passengers had been on the previous voyage, to various Mexican ports.
A passenger from the Mexico voyage says she and her husband became ill later but did not think much of it until the fellow traveler succumbed to the virus.
“They're telling us to stay home, but nobody told me until yesterday to stay home," Judy Cadiz said Thursday.
"We were in Sacramento, we were in Martinez, we were in Oakland. We took a train home from the cruise.
"I really hope that we're negative so nobody got infected.”
Authorities are searching for the 2,500 passengers who got off the ship.
At least 62 people on the Mexico cruise had contact with the two coronavirus cases and have been confined to their rooms.
Nearly 98,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus so far and more than 3,300 have died, mostly in China.
The death toll in the US climbed to 12 on Thursday.
Nine of the deaths have taken place in the same nursing home in Washington, and an investigation has been launched.
Health officials said they expect a far lower death rate than the World Health Organization’s international estimate of 3.4 per cent.
The death is admittedly high because it doesn’t account for mild cases that are uncounted for.
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