Six thousand tourists and crew are being held on a cruise ship in Italy over fears that one of the passengers could be infected with the Chinese coronavirus.
“Sanitary protocol” has been activated amid concerns over the health of an individual traveling on the ship operated by Italian firm Costa Cruises. The ship reached the Italian port of Civitavecchia on Thursday morning, where it had sailed from Palma in the Spanish island of Mallorca.
Medics onboard had been alerted to a suspected case of the virus in a 54-year-old Chinese woman, who has been kept in isolation alongside her travel companion since Wednesday evening .The couple flew in from Hong Kong to Malpensa on January 25.
The woman suffering with symptoms of the illness is from Macau, according to some media reports.
Corriere della Sera newspaper reports there are a total of 751 Chinese citizens including those of Hong Kong, on board and 74 of them embarked in the port of Savona.
“As soon as the suspected case was detected, the medical team on board immediately activated all the relevant health procedures to promptly isolate and manage the clinical condition,” a spokesperson for the company said. “The health authority has been immediately notified and is now on board to conduct all the pertinent measures.”
According to news agency The Associated Press, health officials were screening 6,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members onboard the ship, who were all being prevented from leaving until the type of virus infecting the Chinese patient was determined.
Civitavecchia’s mayor Ernesto Tedesco said: “The situation on the suspected case of coronavirus at the port of Civitavecchia is under the careful control of all the bodies involved, including the local authority.
“The health and maritime authorities have immediately taken action and the protocols envisaged are being followed and we will be constantly monitored.”
Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, said the government was ready to take further steps if necessary.
He told reporters during a trip to Bulgaria: “We’re not concerned, but we are absolutely vigilant and cautious in facing this prospect,”