Cruise industry to enhance screening, on-board testing for coronavirus

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday that the United States is taking “decisive action” to deal with the crew of a cruise ship that may have also worked on one of the Princess line ships that have already dealt with the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“We are tracking at this point a ship that may have shared crew with the Diamond Princess or Grand Princess and we have taken decisive action to hold until we do a full medical assessment of the crew on that ship and we’ll just continue to lean into this effort,” Pence said at a news conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Pence did not name the ship in his remarks nor provide more details about what action is being taken. The Grand Princess remains off the coast of California with passengers and crew in quarantine.

Pence earlier Saturday met with executives of the cruise line industry. At the meeting officials discussed ways the industry could ramp up efforts to mitigate the threat of coronavirus.

During his news conference following the meeting, Pence announced a new plan to combat coronavirus on cruises.

There will be enhanced entry and exit screening for cruise passengers, as well as on-board testing for coronavirus, Pence said. There will also be new quarantine standards for those who took a cruise and need to be quarantined, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will coordinate.

The cruise line industry is working with the CDC, Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard over the next 72 hours to implement the plans.

Health officials briefing the media at the White House Saturday afternoon could not say exactly how many people had been tested related to using the 5,861 tests conducted by the CDC and public health labs across the country.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said 1,583 patients have been tested by the CDC. But Hahn and the government don’t know how many patients received tests from the 2,361 specimens collected by state and local labs.

Hahn said the CDC has shipped enough tests to check 75,000 people through public health labs. In addition, Hahn said, 1.1 million tests have been shipped to non-public health labs by a private manufacturer as of Friday night.

Federal officials say 2.1 million tests will be shipped out by Monday, with a further goal of 4 million tests to be shipped by the end of next week.

As of Saturday evening, there were more than 400 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to the CDC, as well as state and local governments.

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