Expert says officials need to get passengers off coronavirus-infected cruise ship quickly

Tim O'Donnell

Thousands of passengers are stuck on a cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco because of a number of coronavirus cases on board. California authorities are working with federal officials to decide where to dock the Grand Princess cruise ship Saturday, but Don Milton, an epidemiologist at the University of Maryland, says the best thing would be to get everybody to disembark as quickly as possible.

Milton said cruise ships make people particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases. "They're not designed as quarantine facilities, to put it mildly," he told The Associated Press. "You're going to amplify the infection by keeping people on the boat."

He pointed to the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was quarantined in Japan for two weeks, allowing the virus to spread swiftly on board, as what not to do, arguing the fallout from that decision is all the more reason to move people off the ship into a "safer quarantine environment."

The ship holds 3,500 passengers and crew, 21 of whom have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. It was forbidden to dock in San Francisco over concerns it was the breeding ground for a cluster of more than 10 cases during its previous voyage. Read more at The Associated Press.

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