Five Goan sailors stranded on virus-hit US ship

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JOAO SOUSA M | NT

Margao

Anxiety has struck families of five Goan crewmembers of the coronavirus-hit ‘Grand Princess’ cruise ship, which is set to dock at the port of Oakland, California in United States. 

There are nearly 4000 passengers and crewmembers, including five Goans, onboard the cruise ship.

There are 21 people, including 19 crewmembers and two passengers of the ship who have been infected by the deadly virus.

The ‘Grand Princess’ was sailing around Hawaii last week; its previous voyage was linked to a ‘cluster’ of coronavirus cases, resulting in at least one former passenger’s death in northern California.

Reliable sources said that four Goan crewmembers hail from Guirdolim, Dramapur, Nuvem and Quepem while the details of the fifth Goan crewmember are yet to be ascertained.

The worried family members of a stranded Goan crewmember said, “We are helpless and we are waiting for any kind of update on the ill-fated cruise ship… The Goan crewmembers are anxious to be evacuated from the ship before they are infected by the deadly virus.”

“I spoke to my husband this afternoon. Fortunately, so far the Goans are not affected. The cruise operator has told the crewmembers that the US government has agreed to start with disembarkation process,”   wife of the stranded crewmember said.

It is learnt that some 500 passengers will be offloaded, which will take some 8-10 days.

The sources said the ship, which has stranded about 10 miles off California’s northern coast, is expected to dock at the port of Oakland later on Monday, though the official timing is yet to be determined.

The disembarkation will commence in order of priority, as defined and directed by both state and local authorities. The disembarkation will be carried out for several days.

“Once the disembarkation of the guests is completed, the crewmembers will remain onboard the ‘Grand Princess’, which will depart from the San Francisco bay. Plans for quarantining some crewmembers are still being determined,” the sources said.

About 1,000 California residents among the passengers will go into mandatory quarantine at Travis Air Force Base and Miramar Naval Air Station, according to the US department of health and human services.

The family members of the Goan crewmembers clarified that there has been no official communication from the cruise ship even on safety of the crewmembers.

 “We hope the Indian government intervenes and ensures safe return of the crewmembers,” the family members remarked.

Twenty-one people, including 19 crewmembers and two passengers, have tested positive for the COVID-19, the sources said, adding that more people onboard the ship could test positive for the coronavirus.

There are some 3500 passengers onboard the ship, and most of them are from the US.

It is pertinent to note here that 50 Goans sailors were evacuated by India from the COVID-19-hit ‘Diamond Princess’ cruise ship that had stranded off Japan.

They have been under quarantine in a medical facility in New Delhi.