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Cruise ship held off California coast for virus testing

A military helicopter delivered test kits to the Grand Princess, anchored in waters off San Francisco.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, the Grand Princess cruise ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge as it arrives from Hawaii in San Francisco. Scrambling to keep the coronavirus at bay, officials ordered the cruise ship to hold off the California coast Thursday, March 5, to await testing of those aboard, after a passenger on an earlier voyage died and at least one other became infected. (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

SAN FRANCISCO — Scrambling to keep the coronavirus at bay, officials have ordered a cruise ship to hold off the California coast to await testing of those aboard, after a passenger on an earlier voyage died and at least two others became infected.

Officials have ordered the Grand Princess cruise ship near San Francisco to stay back until some of the 3,500 people aboard can be tested. The reason: A passenger on an earlier voyage of the ship died of the disease, and at least two others became infected. 

A military helicopter delivered test kits on Thursday to the Grand Princess, which is anchored off Northern California. The test results are expected on Friday. Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has reached 12.

According to The Associated Press, the ship has a capacity of 3,650 passengers and crew. Princess Cruise Lines told the AP fewer than 100 people aboard had been identified for testing. 

On Wednesday, March 4, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency due to the virus threat. 

“The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” Newsom said. “This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly.”

A Northern California resident died from complications of the virus, known as COVID-19. The individual, who was described as an "elderly adult with underlying health conditions," was the first coronavirus death recorded outside of Washington state. 

The virus, known as COVID-19, has infected at least 100 people in the U.S, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number does not include the 49 cases found in individuals who were repatriated from Wuhan, China, or the Diamond Princess Cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan. The CDC updates the number of coronavirus cases daily, but may not count all cases reported locally by different states. 

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Credit: AP
FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, the Grand Princess cruise ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge as it arrives from Hawaii in San Francisco. Scrambling to keep the coronavirus at bay, officials ordered the cruise ship to hold off the California coast Thursday, March 5, to await testing of those aboard, after a passenger on an earlier voyage died and at least one other became infected. (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

Speaking to reporters Thursday, head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged nations not to give up efforts to contain the virus.

"This is not a drill. This is not the time for giving up. This is not a time of for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops."

The WHO had previously reported the virus' death rate as 3.4%, but U.S. health officials Thursday said they expect a far lower death rate for the virus than the current estimate, saying that it does not account for mild cases that go uncounted. 

Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir, citing a model that included mild cases, said the U.S. could expect a death rate somewhere between 0.1% — like seasonal flu — and 1%.

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