2,000 passengers are kept on a cruise liner in latest coronavirus scare

Cruise ship passengers were kept on an ocean liner in yet another coronavirus scare at sea today after a former shipmate tested positive in Italy

Some 2,000 people were called back on board the MSC Opera from an excursion in Athens today and told not to leave the ship. 

Once they returned, the captain revealed that an Austrian tourist who left the ship on February 28 had been infected with the virus. 

The virus patient, a man, had disembarked in Genoa in northern Italy, the region at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe.   

Passengers were kept the cruise liner MSC Opera (file photo) in yet another coronavirus scare at sea today after a former shipmate tested positive in Italy

Passengers were kept the cruise liner MSC Opera (file photo) in yet another coronavirus scare at sea today after a former shipmate tested positive in Italy

Passengers were kept the cruise liner MSC Opera (file photo) in yet another coronavirus scare at sea today after a former shipmate tested positive in Italy

One passenger, Antonio Montalto, said guests had been told to return to the vessel ‘immediately’ from their excursion in Greece. 

The order was initially unexplained, and rumours even swirled that the delay was linked to the tensions on the Greece-Turkey border. 

However, the captain subsequently explained that passengers had been called back over virus fears. 

The passenger later said that the cruise appeared to be continuing ‘regularly’ and was still due to arrive in Corfu tomorrow. 

A letter from the captain, seen by the Mirror, said that the ship’s crew was ‘waiting for further clarity and guidelines’ from Greek and Austrian authorities. 

‘All passengers and crew are requested to remain on board until we have further clarity on the matter,’ the letter says. 

‘Please note there is no reason for concern. We have no indication that suggests there may be an issue currently on board MSC Opera and there are no cases that suggest there may be a case of Covid-19.’ 

Health authorities have had a suspicious eye on cruise ships since the Diamond Princess (pictured) was quarantined in Japan and proved to have hundreds of cases on board

Health authorities have had a suspicious eye on cruise ships since the Diamond Princess (pictured) was quarantined in Japan and proved to have hundreds of cases on board

Health authorities have had a suspicious eye on cruise ships since the Diamond Princess (pictured) was quarantined in Japan and proved to have hundreds of cases on board

Health authorities have had a suspicious eye on cruise ships since the Diamond Princess was quarantined in Japan and proved to have hundreds of cases on board.  

The attempted two-week quarantine on the Diamond Princess was widely criticised by experts after 705 people tested positive. 

Japanes authorities had ordered a lockdown after a passenger who left the ship in Hong Kong in January tested positive for the virus.   

Two more cruises were disrupted yesterday after Myanmar turned a ship away and Norway kept a vessel in port while two passengers were tested.

Norwegian authorities kept 1,200 tourists on board the Aida Aura at Haugesund harbour after fears were raised over two German travellers, although they later tested negative. 

Meanwhile Myanmar refused permission for the Silver Spirit to dock in Thilawa after 400 tourists arrived from nearby Thailand which has dozens of virus cases. 

Separately, the cruise ship Westerdam was turned away at five ports last month before it finally arrived in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville. There were no cases on board. 

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