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Irishman is second officer on board US cruise ship where thousands stranded after 21 people tested positive for coronavirus

  • A small number of Irish people understood to be on quarantined ship
  • Donegal second officer still waiting to be tested for virus

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Medical personnel Guardian Angels with the 129th Rescue Wing, alongside individuals from the CDC don full personal protective equipment as they prepare to test travelers on the Grand Princess cruise ship for the coronavirus currently off the coast of California, U.S. in this handout photograph obtained on March 5, 2020. California National Guard/Handout

Medical personnel Guardian Angels with the 129th Rescue Wing, alongside individuals from the CDC don full personal protective equipment as they prepare to test travelers on the Grand Princess cruise ship for the coronavirus currently off the coast of California, U.S. in this handout photograph obtained on March 5, 2020. California National Guard/Handout

REUTERS

Medical personnel Guardian Angels with the 129th Rescue Wing, alongside individuals from the CDC don full personal protective equipment as they prepare to test travelers on the Grand Princess cruise ship for the coronavirus currently off the coast of California, U.S. in this handout photograph obtained on March 5, 2020. California National Guard/Handout

An Irishman is second officer of the Grand Princess cruise ship which has been struck with the coronavirus off the coast of America.

A total of 21 people have tested positive for the virus on the Grand Princess cruise ship in San Francisco Bay.

It is understood that a small number of Irish people are on board, one of which is Co Donegal man Pat Kelly, who is the second officer on the ship.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and trade is aware of the cases on the ship and is providing consular assistance.

"The Irish consulate in San Francisco is in touch with local authorities and is monitoring the situation closely," said a spokesperson.

"It is in the department's policy in providing consular assistance that commentary is not given on individual cases and the people or families involved."

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The Grand Princess cruise ship is currently off San Francisco (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle/AP)

The Grand Princess cruise ship is currently off San Francisco (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle/AP)

The Grand Princess cruise ship is currently off San Francisco (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle/AP)

Mr Kelly, from the Inishowen coastal town of Moville, is well-known locally.

His family still live on the town's Main Street and he only left the town a month ago to return to sea having spent Christmas and the New Year there.

He trained at the National Maritime College in Ringaskiddy, Cork.

Mr Kelly has been in touch with his family and friends back in Donegal to let them now that he is in good health.

He is still waiting to be tested for the virus.

A family friend said: "He is fine and he has been in touch by phone to reassure his family of that.

"Pat is young but he is a very experienced seaman and has been at sea all of his life. He has risen through the ranks quickly.

"This is just another challenge he will take on board and get on with it."

US President Donald Trump said he would prefer the passengers to stay on board, but would listen to experts if their advice is for people to be taken off.

Before the test results were released, he said allowing passengers back onto US soil who might become sick later would end up increasing the number of coronavirus cases in the country.

"I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault," he said.

A helicopter flew test kits out to the stricken vessel after it became apparent that some of those on board were feeling unwell.

Of the 21 positive tests, 19 crew members and two guests have so far tested positive.

There are 2,422 guests and 1,111 crew on the vessel and all are now being tested for the virus.

A spokesperson for Princess Cruises said: "We can confirm that the results from the first phase of health screenings of 45 guests and crew on board Grand Princess were completed.

"We were notified by Vice President Pence while he was conducting a press conference and simultaneously by the CDC speaking to our doctor on board, that among the samples tested, 21 people have tested positive for COVID-19 which includes 2 guests and 19 crew.

"We are awaiting official specific plans for future positioning of the ship from relevant authorities.

"We will continue to closely follow the guidance of the CDC and other federal and state government authorities, and provide updates as they are made available."

Online Editors