More than 100 Brits are flown home from coronavirus-hit cruise ship

More than 100 Brits are finally flown home after being evacuated from coronavirus-hit Grand Princess cruise ship in California – but will only self-isolate while American passengers are quarantined

  • A total of 1,406 passengers, including 142 Britons, disembarked from the Grand Princess cruise ship Tuesday
  • A thousand passengers and 1,113 crew still on board the Oakland-docked ship as the evacuation continues 
  • The UK and Canada sent planes to retrieve hundreds of their citizens and fly them home amid the outbreak 
  • Britons will not be quarantined when they return home but instead asked to self-isolate in their own homes
  • Their Kalitta Air plane is expected to land at Birmingham Airport at around 5.45pm later this afternoon 

Some 142 Britons will land in the UK today after leaving the Grand Princess cruise ship – but despite being in close proximity to the 21 passengers and crew who have tested positive for coronavirus, they will not be formally quarantined and have been asked only to self-isolate in their own homes.

The cargo airliner Kalitta Air arrived in Oakland, California, last night before the Britons boarded the plane and began their 11-hour journey back to the UK. They have spent five weeks aboard the infected cruise ship.  

The UK Foreign Office has confirmed the British passengers, who were evacuated on Tuesday alongside 857 others, will not be quarantined when they land in the UK. The plane is expected to land at 5.45pm.

Instead transport organised by Carnival Cruises will bring them to their individual homes where they have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case of Covid-19 infection.   

The cargo airliner Kalitta Air (pictured) arrived in Oakland, California, last night before the Britons boarded the plane and began their 11-hour journey back to the UK. They have spent five weeks aboard the infected cruise ship

‘The British nationals returning from the Grand Princess cruise ship will be asked to self-isolate at home and followed up on by PHE on a daily basis as a precautionary approach,’ said Public Health England. 

They have been told to only get in touch with the NHS if they fall ill – despite the fact infected patients are highly contagious a week before showing symptoms. 

British passengers with symptoms did not board the plane and were taken to a hospital in San Francisco instead.

The evacuees are expected to land at Birmingham Airport later today after RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, where previous repatriated Britons have been quarantined, were vetoed.

Some 407 people, including 200 Canadians, were evacuated late Monday night. A further 999 were then evacuated from the ship throughout Tuesday, bringing the total number of passengers disembarked to 1,406. 

Almost a thousand more passengers disembarked the Grand Princess cruise ship on Tuesday and were driven away to be placed in quarantine at military bases around the United States (passengers are pictured boarding a plane at Oakland International Airport yesterday)

Passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which docked in Oakland, arrived for quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in San Antonio, Texas, yesterday

A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office said: ‘We continue to work closely with the US authorities to repatriate British nationals on board the Grand Princess. 

‘Their current plan is for a flight to return to the UK on Wednesday afternoon. We remain in contact with all British nationals on board and will continue to offer support.’     

Almost a thousand more passengers were disembarked from the Grand Princess cruise ship on Tuesday and driven away to be placed in quarantine at military bases around the United States.

There still remains an estimated 1,015 passengers on board alongside 1,113 crew members. 

Among those who disembarked Monday were two travelers who tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday. They were taken to the hospital alongside their travel companions. 

Nineteen crew members also tested positive Friday but have been deemed ‘asymptomatic’ and remain on the ship in isolated cabins. 

Addressing a news conference on Tuesday in Sacramento, the state capital, Governor Gavin Newsom said he hoped to finish getting all the roughly 2,400 passengers off the ship within 72 hours.   

Grand Princess cruise ship passengers being screened inside a tent Tuesday in Oakland before boarding a bus that will take them to a military base for quarantine. California Gov. Gavin Newsom hopes to have disembarked the ship within 72 hours

Passengers as they get ready to disembark the Grand Princess in Oakland on Tuesday

Once they leave the ship, passengers are being screened before boarding a bus to take them to Travis Air Force Base in Northern California or another military base. 

Travis Air Force expected to welcome 810 Californian passengers in total on Tuesday. 

Other American passengers are being driven by bus to take a charter plane from Oakland International Airport where they are sent to other military bases around the country to be placed in quarantine for 14 days.  

According to a press release from Princess Cruises on Tuesday, ‘once they disembark, American guests will be transferred to either Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, California; Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego; Lackland Air Force Base in Bexar County, Texas; or Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia’. 

California residents will be sent to the Travis Air Force base in Fairfield or Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego.

Non-Californians will be flown to Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia. 

On Tuesday evening, the first passengers were pictured arriving in Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in San Antonio, Texas, for their quarantine. This is the third set of quarantined visitors to arrive at the base.  

In February, it took in 91 citizens repatriated from Wuhan, China, and later received 140 passengers from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship. 

The base was expecting to receive about 380 passengers from the Grand Princess.  

All passengers sported masks and had their luggage with them as they arrived on the tarmac. They were met as they got off the plane by medical staff. 

A passenger cheers as medical Personnel help load them from the Grand Princess cruise ship onto airplanes at Oakland International Airport. American passengers are being brought to one of four military bases to complete a 14-day quarantine

A worker in protective gear directs a masked passenger from the cruise ship Grand Princess on the tarmac at Oakland International Airport Tuesday as authorities continue debarkation from the ship after 21 people on board tested positive

Medical Personnel help load passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship onto airplanes at Oakland International Airport on Tuesday as American passengers are brought into quarantine due to the risk they contracted the coronavirus

Passengers still on board the ship have little information on when they will be disembarking. 

‘We haven’t received any information… We have not received anything in writing or anything like that to say where we’re going or if we’re even leaving today,’ Donna LaGuesse told USA Today earlier on Tuesday. 

Her sister-in-law had received a luggage tag meaning that she would be getting off the ship soon but neither knew which military base they would be sent to and if they could end up separated. 

According to Princess Cruises, Health & Human Services teams have been on board the Grand Princess to assist with medical screenings and interviews and have prioritized those who require the most medical attention and care.  

On Tuesday evening, 24 passengers were taken to buildings on the Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove where they will be temporarily housed.

The passengers are not known to have contracted the coronavirus but ‘because they have mild symptoms that do not require hospitalization, they cannot be quarantined at Travis Air Force Base’.  

Passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which docked in Oakland, arrive for quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in San Antonio, Texas, on Tuesday. This is the third group of quarantined passengers to join the base

A driver and a medical professional with face masks are seen on a bus transporting passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which docked in Oakland, arrive for a coronavirus quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland on Tuesday

Crew members unload bags after a charter flight from California’s Oakland International Airport carrying passengers evacuated from the Grand Princess cruise ship arrived at Kelly Field, an enclave of San Antonio, Texas, on Tuesday

Passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which docked in Oakland, arrive Tuesday for quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas. The base expects to receive 380 passengers from the cruise ship in the next few hours

Once all guests have disembarked, the crew will remain on board and the ship will leave San Francisco Bay. 

‘Once disembarkation of the guests is completed, remaining crew members will remain onboard and Grand Princess will depart from San Francisco Bay. Plans for a crew quarantine are still being determined,’ Princess Cruises added in Tuesday’s statement. 

All the remaining U.S. passengers will be tested once they reach their destinations at quarantine housing at one of the four military bases.

Hundreds of Americans have been taken off the Grand Princess cruise ship and driven to military bases around America to start two weeks of quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak on board. Pictured, a bus arrives at Travis Air Force Base

Some 1,500 people were evacuated from the ship on Monday, including two dozen people requiring urgent medical care. Pictured, a bus full of American passengers arrives at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California

Two buses carrying quarantined passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship drive onto Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, on Monday night

240 Canadian passengers were evacuated Monday and boarded a specially-chartered evacuation flight home (pictured arriving at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario) where they will also be quarantined

Passengers step off a plane carrying Canadians back from the Grand Princess cruise ship, after it arrived at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario

Around 2,000 passengers were left on board the ship overnight as evacuation operations were halted, before restarting again Tuesday morning. It comes after 21 cases of coronavirus were confirmed on board the ship


Like other coronaviruses, including those that cause the common cold and that triggered SARS, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness.

 The most common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue 

Although having a runny nose doesn’t rule out coronavirus, it doesn’t thus far appear to be a primary symptom.

Most people only become mildly ill, but the infection can turn serious and even deadly, especially for those who are older or have underlying health conditions.

In these cases, patients develop pneumonia, which can cause: 

  • Potentially with yellow, green or bloody mucus Fever, sweating and shaking chills
  • Shortness of breath Rapid or shallow breathing 
  • Pain when breathing, especially when breathing deeply or coughing 
  • Low appetite, energy and fatigue 
  • Nausea and vomiting (more common in children) Confusion (more common in elderly people) 
  • Some patients have also reported diarrhea and kidney failure has occasionally been a complication. 

Avoid people with these symptoms. If you develop them, call your health care provider before going to the hospital or doctor, so they and you can prepare to minimize possible exposure if they suspect you have coronavirus.


Among Monday’s evacuees were 240 Canadians who were loaded on specially chartered evacuation flights home to start a quarantine of their own.  

The Grand Princess was forced to idle off the coast of California for several days after a coronavirus outbreak was confirmed on board, but finally made port in Oakland on Monday and an evacuation started.

US authorities decided not to quarantine people on board the ship after similar efforts on board another Princess Cruises ship – the Diamond Princess – failed, sickening more than 700 people and leading to six deaths.  

‘Everyone was hollering and clapping’ as the giant vessel sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and entered the harbor, passenger Karen Schwartz Dever said. 

Carolyn Wright, 63, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, could look out of her cabin window as passengers lined up. Around them, she noted, were people in yellow protective clothing, gloves and even a few hazardous materials suits.

For days, passengers aboard the ship had been isolated in their cabins. When they were finally allowed a few minutes on deck, she said, they were warned to wear masks and try to stay 6 feet away from each other.

But after docking, video showed long lines forming for the processing tents. Ambulances were on hand to take some passengers away.

‘They were cueing up the passengers like cattle,’ Wright said. ‘Everybody was bunched up. They were physically touching each other and they were backed up along the gangplank.’ Then, she said, they were taken away in chartered buses.

‘I’m just totally freaked out by that,’ said Wright. ‘It’s outrageous. If that’s safe, then why were we stuck in our rooms? It’s been stressed for the past five days that we’re not to have any contact with any other passengers?’

‘We’re trying to stay calm and were trying to stay positive but it’s getting harder and harder. They can’t make up their minds how to keep us safe,’ said Wright’s cabin mate, Beryl Ward, 77, of Santa Fe.

‘The president didn’t even want us to get off the ship. So that didn’t make me happy,’ she added. ‘Wish you were here, Mr. Trump!’

On Sunday, before the ship docked, Dr. John Redd of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had urged passengers to remain in their rooms and said: ‘We’re making every effort to get them off the ship as safely and quickly as possible.’

He called the elaborate but quickly planned disembarkation process a ‘really unprecedented and difficult operation.’

The Grand Princess had been held off the coast since Wednesday because of evidence that it was the breeding ground for more than 20 infections tied to a previous voyage.

US authorities opted to evacuate the Grand Princess after efforts to quarantine passengers on board the Diamond Princess ship failed and led to 700 getting sick, along with six deaths. The evacuation should be completed within 72 hours 

Disembarking passengers were filtered through medical tents as they left the ship so they could be checked for signs of the virus, while crew members (right) were dressed in full hazmat suits as they were taken off the ship

Passengers left on board the ship wave to those on shore after being confined to their rooms ahead of evacuation

The Grand Princess was held off the West Coast after coronavirus was detected on board, before being allowed to dock at Oakland on Monday as the evacuation started. The evacuation continued Tuesday with more than 1,400 disembarked

U.S. passengers will be flown or bused from the port – chosen for its proximity to an airport and a military base – to bases in California, Texas and Georgia for testing and a 14-day quarantine. Some arrived Monday night at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California. The ship carried people from 54 countries, and foreigners were to be whisked home.

But Wright and others said nobody had been told the details. Only about 50 people had been tested for the virus.

‘I’m willing to be quarantined,’ Wright said. ”But I want to know if I’m positive or not. We don’t even know if we’re going to get tested. It’s all rumor and speculation.’

‘I’m bored and frustrated,’ she added. ‘All of a sudden a two-week vacation has turned into a five-week vacation.’ 

Passengers need to worry about who is looking after their children or pets, not to mention preparing their taxes before the deadline and earning a living. 

A professional photographer, she was looking at five weeks without earning a salary.

About 1,100 crew members, 19 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, which will dock elsewhere after passengers are unloaded, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said.

The California governor and Oakland mayor sought to reassure people that none of the cruise ship passengers would be exposed to the public before completing the quarantine. Officials were trying to decide where the ship and its crew would go next.

Cruise ships have come under scrutiny by those who view them as potential germ factories because they pack thousands of people in close quarters.

Another Princess ship, the Diamond Princess, was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama, Japan, last month because of the virus. Ultimately, about 700 of the 3,700 people aboard became infected in what experts pronounced a public health failure.

A third vessel, the Caribbean Princess, was supposed to dock in Grand Cayman on Monday but the cruise line said it will keep its thousands of passengers and crews from disembarking until crew members are tested for COVID-19.

Around the world, nations have limited the movements of millions of people in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Italy was to impose travel restrictions and other strict public health measures nationwide starting Tuesday.

In Northern California, Santa Clara County announced a ban of all large gatherings of at least 1,000 people for the rest of the month in response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The announcement Monday came hours after the public health department announced the county’s first coronavirus death, a woman in her 60s.

The virus has shaken global markets, with stocks taking their worst one-day beating on Wall Street since 2008 and oil prices suffering their most brutal losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War. 

Even with Asian markets posting modest gains Tuesday, fear was rampant that economies stood at the brink of recession.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

A worker at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, which has seen the majority of US deaths due to the virus, wears a mask and uses a leaf blower as he wheels a package on a cart, Monday

Tourists, wearing protective masks, look on as they wait for a ride outside of Union Station in Washington, DC

A man wears a face mask as he arrives to take the subway in New York City amid fears over coronavirus infections

Donald Trump has faced accusations that his administration is seeking to downplay the virus, leaving Americans unprepared

According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. 

In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

The virus has infected over 1,000 people in the United States, and at least 31 have died, most in Washington state. 

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said communities will need to start thinking about canceling large gatherings, closing schools and letting more employees work from home, as many companies have done after an outbreak in the Seattle area.

Pearl Jam on Monday announced it was postponing 17 North American shows on its upcoming tour over coronavirus concerns.

In Silicon Valley, NASA’s Ames Research Center is essentially closed with restricted access because an employee tested positive Sunday for the coronavirus. Workers will be on ‘mandatory telework status’ and three earth science airplane missions are being delayed to later this year, the county said.

Several universities have begun online-only courses, including the University of Washington, Stanford University and Columbia University.

Everything you need to know about coronavirus

By Natalie Rahhal, Acting US Health Editor for  


About 14 percent of people who contract the Covid-19 coronavirus are taken to hospital – with severe symptoms including breathing problems and pneumonia. About 5 per cent need intensive care.

But the majority who get the virus suffer nothing more than a cough and may never know they are infected.

So far, some 51,000 people around the world have already recovered from coronavirus – and that just includes the numbers who received a diagnosis. 


Officially, the death rate so far has been just over three percent. But experts believe the true mortality rate is probably between one and two percent. This is because most mild cases have not been picked up by doctors or reflected in the official numbers – so the death rate is inflated. 


Seasonal flu kills roughly 0.1 percent of people. So Covid-19 is between 10 and 20 times more fatal.

But it is far less dangerous than SARS – the virus that ripped across China in 2003 – which killed 10 percent of patients.


Yes, but not dramatically. The best estimates suggest every person with Covid-19 passes it on to 2.6 people, on average. For flu that number is 1.5. 


Initially scientists feared carriers who had no symptoms could pass it on. That is now in doubt.

What is likely, however, is those who have mild symptoms are putting it down to a cold and going about their normal lives – which puts others at risk.


Again, unclear. Initially scientists said this could take up to two weeks.

But recent evidence suggests the incubation period could be as long as a month – particularly among children.

The average, however, is much shorter. A Chinese study said the average period of symptom onset was 5.4 days for adults and 6.5 for children. 


The virus can affect anyone – with a study of the first 41 infected people revealing two thirds did not suffer from any pre-existing condition. But the middle-aged are most likely to get it – 78 percent of those infected in China have been aged 30 to 69.


Only 3 percent of people infected so far have been over 80 – but if they get it they are more vulnerable. Analysis of 72,000 cases in China suggests for over-80s the death rate is 15 percent. For those in their 70s the death rate is 8 percent and for those in their 60s, 4 percent.


Those with other conditions – such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and kidney problems – are likely to suffer severe complications if they become infected.


Children seem to be low-risk. Less than 1 percent of the Chinese cases have been under the age of ten – and if children do get the virus it’s often a mild form.

They do, however, retain the virus for longer than adults.

A study last week found the virus was still present in the stools of some children for a month after they contracted it.


Men are marginally more likely to get the virus than women. It is not clear why this is.


Anyone who has symptoms –particularly if they have travelled to an at-risk area – are told to call ahead to their health care provider, local emergency department or clinics.

This way, health care providers can be prepared, wearing masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment when they meet the possible patient and escort them to isolated areas of the facility.

They are tested using a cheek swab which is sent off for analysis at one of 12 Public Health England labs, a process that takes between 24 and 48 hours. Any positive test is double-checked at the main PHE lab in Colindale.


There is little doctors can do to tackle the virus, but they can treat the symptoms – such as fever and respiratory problems. Antivirals and antibiotics are also used, mainly to keep secondary problems at bay.

In the most serious cases patients are put on life-support equipment.

There are several clinical trials for potential coronavirus treatments ongoing worldwide, including one in Nebraska, where at least 13 patients are in quarantine, including two in biocontainment units. 


Even though the Wuhan virus appeared only a few weeks ago, 20 teams around the world are already manufacturing vaccines.

Chinese authorities provided the DNA code for the virus early on in the outbreak, enabling scientists to get to work straight away.

At least 30 companies and research institutions in the US are racing to make a vaccine.

Last week, one of these companies, Moderna, shipped its candidate vaccine to the US, signalling the shot was ready to begin clinical trials.

Even so, US health authorities say it will likely be upwards of a year before a vaccine is actually ready.

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