AROUND 66 Brits were among 7,000 passengers stuck on a cruise ship yesterday due to a coronavirus false alarm.
A woman, 54, from Macau on China’s south coast, was put into isolation on the Costa Smerelda after she came down with a fever and breathing problems.
A photograph of passengers who claimed to be aboard the ship shows passengers looking anxious
The vessel was being held at the Port of Civitavecchia after the woman came down with a fever and went to the ship’s hospital.
She is thought to have boarded the ship on January 25, in the port of Savona with her partner, who showed no symptoms and was only isolated as a precaution.
Around 1,143 were due to get off the Med cruise at the port, 35 miles north of Rome, to go home.
The captain gave permission, but mayor Ernesto Tedesco raced to the harbour in a Fiat 500.
He shouted: “Are you mad? and ordered everyone back on board.
The couple were placed in solitary confinement as doctors from Italy’s National Institute for Infectious Diseases examined them to find out if they had the coronavirus, which has killed at least 212 people in China and infected thousands of others.
But Costa Cruises has now confirmed that Italian health officials diagnosed the passenger with the common flu.
“While we appreciate the inconvenience caused, the procedures in force and our cooperation with the Health Authorities were effective in managing this situation and were intended to ensure maximum safety for all our guests, crew and the community as a whole,” said the cruise company in a statement.
The ship will now skip the port of La Spezia, scheduled for tomorrow and will remain docked at Civitavecchia on Friday before leaving to end its cruise as scheduled in Savona, Italy.
Pictures emerged of tired-looking passengers onboard, crowded into corridors waiting for further announcements.
An unnamed passenger told ANSA news agency that the couple’s cabin had been ‘isolated’ and they were ‘in with doctors’.
They said: “We’re are a bit worried of course. No one is getting on or off the ship apart from doctors. The holiday risks ending in a nightmare. We hope to get off soon.”
Liborio Lervolino also told the agency: “We have no information, the internet inside the ship doesn’t work and we can’t get news.
“But above all, we take meals altogether in the common areas and we don’t know if someone is infected.
“There are no disposable dishes, in theaters, television broadcast advertisements, we would like to see the news and understand what happens.”
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,”
The towering 185,000-tonne vessel, also believed to be carrying about 1,000 crew, was on a seven-day cruise, previously spending the night docked in Palma, Majorca.
Worried passenger, Gaby, tweeted: “The planned excursions to Roma today was cancelled.
“They don’t let us off the boat(sic).
“There is no official information.”
The couple flew in from Hong Kong to Malpensa on January 25.
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.
Cruise companies MSC and Costa have cancelled any cruiseliners departing from Chinese ports in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
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