MONDAY, March 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) — As the number of U.S. COVID-19 cases climbed past 530 in at least 34 states and the death toll hit 22, the State Department issued an advisory Sunday that urged all Americans to avoid cruise travel.

“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the State Department advised. “In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking. In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures.” The statement went even further, adding that: “While the U.S. government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.”

On Monday, a cruise ship held off the coast of California after nearly half of 46 passengers tested positive for COVID-19 docked in Oakland, where testing and quarantine procedures will begin, The New York Times reported.

Forty percent of the 2,500 passengers on the Grand Princess are California residents who will be quarantined at military bases across the state, The Times said. All Americans who are not state residents will be quarantined at military bases in Texas and Georgia, and foreign nationals will be sent home on charter flights from Oakland International Airport, the newspaper reported.

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