Cruise ship locked down over coronavirus fears in Italy

Cruise ship locked down over coronavirus fears in Italy
The Costa Smeralda cruise ship is docked in the Civitavecchia port near Rome. Photo: AP/Andrew Medichini

A cruise ship was locked down off the coast of Italy today amid fears a couple onboard may have caught coronavirus.

More than 6,000 passengers, including 751 Chinese people, were on board the cruise ship in the Italian port city of Civitavecchia near Rome when the liner was placed on lockdown over two suspected cases of coronavirus.

Italian health authorities did not allow the passengers and 1,000 crew members to get off the ship.

Samples from a couple onboard from Hong Kong were sent for testing after three doctors and a nurse boarded the Costa Crociere ship Costa Smeralda to tend to a woman with a fever and mild flu symptoms.

The 54-year-old woman from Macau was put into isolation overnight in a hospital ward on the ship. Her husband, who did not have any symptoms, was also been tested by doctors from Rome’s Spallanzani hospital and quarantined as a precaution.

The Italian news agency Agenzia Ansa has reported that the tests on the couple indicate the virus is not present in their system.

The couple had arrived from Hong Kong to Milan Malpensa airport on January 25 and boarded the cruise ship at Savona. The Costa Smeralda docked at the port of Civitavecchia today after stopping in Marseille, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca during its tour.

Italian Coastguard commander Vincenzo Leone said: "All the planned mechanisms were activated. Health authorities are on board, doing checks.

"The situation is under control. There’s a security cordon on the dock."

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