Dozens of people are missing and feared dead after a ferry in the Solomon Islands set sail despite warnings not to embark during a cyclone.
The MV Taimareho was travelling on Thursday night from the capital Honiara, on the island of Guadalcanal, to West Are’are, on Malaita island.
The vessel hit choppy seas whipped up by Cyclone Harold. Up to 60 people are reported to have been on board.
Rescue efforts are under way but have been hampered by the bad weather.
Cyclone Harold has brought flooding and run boats aground in the Solomon Islands.
The country’s national disaster agency has issued several warnings of landslides and rough seas. Travellers are urged to exercise extreme caution.
Emergency officials there are already on high alert over the threat of the coronavirus.
The Solomon Islands is one of a dwindling number of countries not to have reported any cases.
Courtesy of BBC News
21 people test positive on the cruise ship quarantined off California coast, USA #COVID19 #coronavirus #California #USA # #quarantine #epidemic #GrandPrincess
Twenty-one people aboard a cruise ship that was barred from docking in San Francisco have tested positive for coronavirus, U.S. officials said on Friday, as half a dozen states reported their first cases of the fast-spreading respiratory disease.
Vice President Mike Pence, who is running the White House’s response to the outbreak, said at a news conference that 19 crew members and two passengers out of 46 people tested so far on the Grand Princess ship had the virus.
He said the vessel with about 3,400 passengers and crew would be taken to a non-commercial port where everyone on board would be tested.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he would rather have passengers remain on board the vessel, but that he would let others make the decision whether to let the passengers disembark.
“I’d rather have them stay on, personally, but I fully understand if they want to take them off,” Trump told reporters after touring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Courtesy of theguardian.com
Coronavirus crisis: 2,000 passengers TRAPPED as cruise ship quarantined off Greece #COVID19 #coronavirus #Greece #quarantine #MSCOpera
A CRUISE ship with 2,000 passengers on board has been struck by an outbreak coronavirus, with the whole ship quarantined.
The MSC Opera has been forced keep passengers at sea just off the coast of Greece after a tourist tested positive for Covid-19. All passengers were urgently re-called from excursions due to what they were told was a “security problem”. The captain of the ship then notified holidaymakers that a previous passenger onboard has been diagnosed with Covid-19.
In a letter Captain Pietro Esposito said Austrian Health Authorities have notified crew members that a male passenger with Austrian nationality has contracted coronavirus.
The man disembarked the ship in the Italian city of Genoa on Friday February 28.
All passengers and crew member were told to remain on board until further notice.
Captain Esposito confirmed a number of “precautionary and preventative measures” are currently in place.
There is currently “no indication” any other person onboard the ship has contracted the virus.
Captain Esposito said: ”I have just learned – and I wanted you to know straightaway – that we have been contacted by the Austrian Health Authorities who have informed us that a previous passenger who sailed with us last week on MSC Opera, has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“The male passenger, of Austrian nationality, disembarked from MSC Opera in Genoa, Italy, on Friday morning 28 February, and is currently back in Austria.
“We are currently still waiting for further clarity and guidelines from the Austrian Health Authorities and are in touch with the Greek Authorities.
“However, we are proactively taking a number of precautionary and preventative measures to ensure the safety of passengers.
“All passengers and crew are requested to remain on board until we have further clarity on the matter.
“Please note there is no reason for concern.
“We have no indication that suggests there may be an issue currently on board MSC Opera and there are no cases that suggest there may be a case of COVID-19.”
The Austrian passenger had travelled on board the ship across the east mediterranean between February 17-28 before being tested positive for the virus on March 3.
After being alerted by Austrian Health officials the cruiseliner was docked in the port of Piraeus which is located just over five miles from Athens.
Following an assessment by Greek Health officials the ship was allowed to continue onto its next scheduled stop in Corfu.
A spokesman for MSC Cruises said: ”Health Authorities in Austria today informed us that a passenger of Austrian nationality, who had cruised with us on MSC Opera in the East Mediterranean from 17 to 28 February, tested positive yesterday, 3 March, for COVID-19.
“This passenger returned directly to Austria through northern Italy on 28 February immediately after disembarking from his cruise in Genoa, Italy.
“MSC Opera earlier today arrived in Piraeus, Greece, and we promptly informed the Greek Health Authorities about this reported case and asked for their guidelines.
“We requested at the same time that passengers, as a precautionary measure, remained on board while awaiting guidance from the local authorities.
“We shared with the local health authorities the ship’s full medical records as well as the medical and travel history records of the former Austrian passenger.
“The Greek health authorities gave MSC Opera permission around 13:00 CET to sail from Piraeus, Greece, and continue its journey to its next scheduled port in Corfu, Greece.
“No additional health measures were required to be taken and the ship is currently sailing as planned.
“There are no passengers or crew members currently on board the ship who have reported any flu-like symptoms.
“The health and safety of our passengers and crew will always remain our top priority.”
Globally, there are now more than 90,000 cases worldwide, with more than 3,000 deaths.
Today the number of cases in the UK soared by 32 with the total number of confirmed cases now standing at 87.
Courtesy of express.co.uk
Coronavirus: City of San Antonio declares state of emergency #COVID19 #coronavirus #SanAntonio #Texas #USA #emergency #quarantine #epidemic
The city of San Antonio in the US state of Texas has declared a state of emergency, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The city’s mayor Ron Nirenberg declared a public health emergency on Monday afternoon local time to keep more than 120 coronavirus evacuees from a cruise ship quarantined at an airforce base at the outskirts of San Antonio until further notice and forbid the influx of new evacuees.
The cruse ship evacuees were originally to be released Monday.
Courtesy of theguardian.com
Four new UK COVID-19 cases after cruise ship evacuees test positive #nCoV2019 #COVID19 #coronavirus #UK #Japan #Yokohama #DiamondPrincess #Ship #ArroweParkHospital #Wirral #emergency #quarantine #epidemic
Four of the British and Irish evacuees who landed back in Britain from Japan yesterday have tested positive for COVID-19, taking the UK total to 13.
The virus was transmitted when they were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
They are being transferred from Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral to specialist NHS infection centres, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty said.
They were due to be quarantined for two weeks, having already spent 14 days in isolation on the ship. Almost a fifth of the 3,711 passengers originally on board the liner have been infected.
A “full infectious disease risk assessment” was carried out before the repatriation flight, and no one that boarded had displayed any symptoms, the Department of Health said.
“Appropriate arrangements” are in place at Arrowe Park, it added, including strict separation of passengers from staff and from each other.
Thirty Britons and two Irish citizens landed at Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base near Salisbury, Wiltshire, before being taken to hospital by coach on Saturday.
Three coaches carried passengers wearing masks and medical professionals in white hazmat suits.
Meanwhile, there has been a third fatality from the COVID-19 outbreak on the Diamond Princess.
Japan’s health ministry said a passenger who was taken to hospital after testing positive had died.
The Japanese man in his eighties was among the first group of people to develop symptoms when a 14-day quarantine was ordered on the ship on 5 February, health ministry official Masami Sakoi said.
A total of four people have died from the virus in Japan – all of them in their 80s.
In Italy, about a dozen towns are in lockdown as the country races to contain the biggest outbreak of coronavirus in Europe following a surge in cases.
The number has risen sharply to more than 130, and two people have died in the last 48 hours.
In another development, more than 100 people flown back to the UK from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China have been released from quarantine.
The group – including 10 children and a family of four – spent two weeks at a conference centre in Milton Keynes after being brought back to Britain on a repatriation flight from the city of Wuhan.
Courtesy of Sky News
Coronavirus: British passengers on Diamond Princess cruise ship land back in UK #nCoV2019 #COVID19 #coronavirus #UK #Japan #Yokohama #DiamondPrincess #Ship #ArroweParkHospital #Wirral #emergency #quarantine #epidemic
Dozens of people who spent two weeks isolated on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan have returned to the UK.
Thirty-two British and European nationals took off from Haneda airport in Tokyo late on Friday and landed in Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base near Salisbury, Wiltshire, on Saturday morning.
The flight also has British government and medical staff on board, the Foreign Office said.
On landing, the Britons in the group were due to be taken to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral for two weeks of quarantine.
It is unclear where the small number of EU citizens will be taken.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab released a statement saying: “We have brought 32 British and European citizens safely home from Japan. The FCO worked hard to get them back to the UK securely.
“Our number one priority has consistently been the health and safety of UK nationals.”
It comes as Italy is reporting its second death from coronavirus, amid fears the viral outbreak could have having an impact on the worldwide economy.
Among the Britons who have spent two weeks in isolation on the Diamond Princess are Alan and Vanessa Sandford, who were kept in their room after hundreds of cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on board.
Some 634 passengers and crew caught the SARS-like illness aboard the ship, which makes up more than half the confirmed cases outside of China.
Only the people who were not exhibiting symptoms were allowed to board the repatriation flight.
Mr Sandford said he understood why people might be “nervous” about those who have jetted back to the UK, but said he and his wife could not wait to be back home.
He told Sky News: “I think I might struggle a bit with this second lot of 14 days (on the Wirral).
“You can’t get on with your life, everything’s on hold, and I’ve got this certificate that says I’m negative for the virus and nobody on the aircraft is going to be anything other than negative, so it just seems excessive.
“But I understand as well that people are nervous about having people back in the country.”
Another passenger, Alan Steele, who was separated from his new wife after being diagnosed with COVID-19, made a joke comparison between his awaited quarantine on the Wirral and Butlins.
Writing on Facebook, he said: “Wendy’s test was negative so Butlins the Wirral here we come for 14 days.”
One Briton who has already spent two weeks on the Wirral after being evacuated from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak in China, said the time should go quickly.
“It is going to be boring at times, but if you can interact with others a bit and use the entertainment systems the time should pass pretty quickly,” Kharn Lambert told Sky News.
Courtesy of sky News
British couple quarantined on cruise ship diagnosed with coronavirus #nCoV2019 #COVID19 #coronavirus #Japan #Yokohama #wuhan #china #emergency #ship #quarantine #epidemic #Britain
A British couple who have been quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan have revealed they have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
David and Sally Abel have been posting regular updates online from the Diamond Princess, which has been docked off the coast of Yokohama since 3 February.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr Abel said: “There is going to be a time of quiet. We have been proved positive and leaving for hospital soon. Blessings all.”
However Mr Abel, from Oxfordshire, later said he doubted the diagnosis because he and his wife were being taken to a hostel instead of a hospital.
He wrote on Facebook: “Frankly I think this is a setup! We are NOT being taken to a hospital but a hostel. That’s where partners are sent waiting out their quarantine.
“No phone, no wi-fi and no medical facilities. I really am smelling a very big rat here! Waiting for the transfer now..”
When asked if he was sure the test for COVID-19 was positive, Mr Abel replied: “I doubt it was positive. If it was, we would be in hospital.”
Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said he understood Mr and Mrs Abel had been quarantined by Japanese authorities
He told Sky News’ Kay Burley @ Breakfast show: “This is a really, really serious outbreak – a serious case which people, through no fault of their own, have been exposed to this potentially lethal virus.
“What we’re trying to do as a government is try and get people back to Britain, fly them back so that they can be with their families.”
On Mr and Mrs Abel, Mr Kwarteng added: “It will be terrifying and very frightening but I think where they are is [with] the Japanese authorities. My understanding [is they] have essentially quarantined them and are looking after them.”
The Foreign Office says it is “working to organise a flight” back to the UK for British nationals on the coronavirus-hit cruise ship – and those trapped are being “strongly encouraged” to take it.
Those in quarantine on the Diamond Princess are being contacted to make the necessary arrangements, with a spokesperson adding: “We urge all those who have not yet responded to get in touch immediately.”
More than 70 British nationals have faced an anxious wait to find out whether they will be evacuated from the cruise liner.
The Foreign Office had come under increasing pressure to bring them home after the US chartered two planes to repatriate 340 of its citizens – 14 of whom had been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Those who had tested positive were moved to the back of the plane in a “specialised containment area” to be isolated – even though they did not display any symptoms.
Approximately half of all known cases of COVID-19 outside China have been found aboard the Diamond Princess.
About 450 people have tested positive since the cruise liner was ordered to stay under quarantine on 3 February.
Four Britons are among the confirmed cases, and they are currently in hospital in Japan.
Courtesy of Sky News