Over 6,000 tourists have been confined on a cruise ship off the coast of Italy on Thursday over fears of two suspected cases of the deadly coronavirus on board.
The vast liner was placed on lockdown while two people were tested for the deadly coronavirus.
Samples from the two passengers, a Chinese couple, were sent for testing after three doctors and a nurse boarded the Costa Crociere ship in the port of Civitavecchia, north-west of Rome, to tend to a woman running a fever, local health authorities said.
Costa Crociere confirmed that its Costa Smerelda ship, carrying some 7,000 people including the crew, was on lockdown.
It said it a 54-year old woman from Macau “was placed in solitary confinement in the on-board hospital last night with her travel companion”, and was following instructions from the health ministry.
The Costa Smeralda, the company’s flagship and the fifth-largest cruise ship in the world, “came from Palma de Mallorca and is currently engaged in one-week cruises in the western Mediterranean,” it said.
The Costa Smerelda is the fifth-largest cruise ship in the world. File photo: Costa Press Office
It had been due to sail for La Spezia in north Italy late Thursday, but would be detained in the Civitavecchia port near Rome “until we have an update on the health tests,” said port captain Vincenzo Leone.
The couple flew in to Milan from Hong Kong on January 25, before getting on the cruise, according to Italian media reports.
One Italian passenger who said he was on board the ship near Civitavecchia tweeted at midday on Thursday: “We’re blocked on board the Costa ship without knowing the (official) reason.”
“The couple’s cabin has been isolated and they are in with the doctors,” an unnamed passenger was quoted as telling ANSA news agency.
“We’re a bit worried of course. No-one is getting on or off the ship apart from the doctors. This holiday risks ending in a nightmare”.