Passengers on a cruise ship that has been quarantined off the US coast were only told 21 people had tested positive for coronavirus after Vice President Mike Pence announced it on TV.
Mike Pence said all 3,500 passengers and crew on board the Grand Princess will now be tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
21 of the 43 tests conducted on the Grand Princess came back positive for the Coronavirus.
He said 19 crew members on the vessel, which has been held off San Francisco, were among those that had tested positive.
US President Donald Trump has 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.
At least one passenger expressed anger that the captain relayed the information 20 minutes after Mr Pence’s announcement.
“Why did we not know before the vice president announced it on TV?” Kari Kolstoe, a retired teacher from Grand Forks, North Dakota, said.
The 60-year-old, who has a rare form of cancer, went on the cruise ahead of more planned treatment. She is now concerned she will miss her appointment.
She told Reuters news agency: “It’s still a worry that I’m going to not get back.”
It is not the first cruise ship to be affected by coronavirus.
Experts have criticised Japanese bureaucrats’ handling of the Diamond Princess, where ultimately about 700 people were infected and six died after it was quarantined off the coast of Japan.
There have been claims the large number of infections occurred because the situation was mismanaged.
Mr Pence said the US government is working with California officials on a plan to bring the Grand Princess – a sister ship to the Diamond Princess – to a non-commercial port this weekend where all passengers will be tested.
He added that it is likely the crew members caught the virus on two different voyages of the ship and he expects 1,110 members of staff on the vessel to be quarantined.
Passengers on the ship have been told to stay in their cabins, and a military helicopter has been seen lowering testing kits on to the vessel via a 950-ft rope.
The ship had been due to dock in San Francisco on Wednesday but has been held at sea.
British couple Neil and Victoria Hanlon are also among those on the boat.
They told Sky News: “There is a very ill passenger on board and they are hopefully going to airlift this passenger off some time this evening.”
Mr and Mrs Hanlon said they have not been tested yet and the captain is getting annoyed about the lack of information he has to pass on to passengers.
The couple were to due to disembark the ship on today and arrive back in the UK tomorrow.
Mr Hanlon, from Somerset, continued: “Spirits are still pretty high but it’s still early days.
“We’re a bit fed up just sitting and lying around and getting no exercise. We’re waiting for an update to tell us where we’re going.”
Passenger Michele Smith said she had been told that only people who had been on the previous Mexico voyage or those showing flu-like symptoms had to isolate themselves.
“Spirits are as high as can be under these circumstances,” she said.
“We are blessed to be healthy, comfortable and well-fed.”