WASHINGTON: Twenty-one people on board a cruise ship stranded off the coast of San Francisco have tested positive for the new coronavirus, United States Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday (Mar 6).

“Among those positive for coronavirus were 19 crew members and two passengers,” said Pence, who has been tasked by President Donald Trump to coordinate the US government’s response to the outbreak.

Pence said the ship will be brought to a non-commercial dock this weekend and all 3,533 passengers and crew will be tested.

The Grand Princess has been stranded off the coast of San Francisco since Wednesday – when it was supposed to dock – after it emerged that two people who had been on the ship during its previous voyage had contracted the virus. One of them later died.

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A helicopter flew testing kits to the cruise liner after at least 35 people developed flu-like symptoms aboard the ship.

US President Donald Trump on Friday signed a bill allocating US$8.3 billion to stop the virus from spreading. The bill breezed through the Senate with a passing vote of 96-1 on Thursday.

More than US$3 billion of the approved funds will be devoted to research and development of coronavirus vaccines, test kits and treatments. There are currently no approved vaccines or treatments for the illness that began in China and has infected more than 95,000 people in about 80 countries and territories.

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