A cruise ship has been quarantined off the coast of Greece after a previous tourist on the ship tested positive for coronavirus.
All 2000 passengers have been told to remain on the MSC Opera after being urgently called back from excursions which they were told was due to a “security problem”, The Sun reports.
The tourist, from Austria, travelled on board the cruise liner last week before departing in Italy.
But it wasn’t until after he disembarked and began showing symptoms, that he tested positive for the deadly bug.
A letter to passengers from Captain Pietro Esposito read: “I have just learned – and I wanted you to know straight away – that we have been contacted by the Austrian Health Authorities who have informed us that a previous passenger who sailed with us last week on MSC Opera, has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“The male passenger, of Austrian nationality, disembarked from MSC Opera in Genoa, Italy, on Friday morning, February 28, and is currently back in Austria.
“To be clear: This person is not on board.”
The captain added: “All passengers and crew are requested to remain on board until we have further clarity on the matter.”
“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.’’
Passenger Mike Knotts and his wife Charysse, from Texas, told the Daily Mirror that they were suddenly called back to the boat while visiting the Acropolis in Athens.
Mike said: “We were told that there was a security problem and we had to return to the ship.
“When we got back the captain made an announcement and we were given letters.
“There was lots of drama at the front desk with one man yelling.
“We’re now on our way to Corfu but we don’t even now if we will be able to get off the ship.’’
Mike said: “My wife’s company said we would have to self-isolate on our return because we were going through Italy, so we’re not very concerned.
“They have been very strict about hygiene and washing hands.
“We’ve been on lots of cruises and things happen and you just carry on.”
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CORONAVIRUS CRUISE PANIC
The news comes after a number of cruise ships have been quarantined due to coronavirus fears in the past two months.
The Diamond Princess was put on lockdown just off the port of Yokohama last month, and there have now been more than 700 confirmed cases of coronavirus stemming from the ship.
Just last week, a British man in his 80s died after contracting coronavirus on board the ship.
The British man did not live in the UK and was travelling with his female partner. They were among 78 Brits quarantined on the luxury liner off Yokohama.
The 3600 passengers and crew aboard the World Dream ship were also quarantined in Hong Kong last month amid fears staff could have contracted the virus on a previous voyage.
They were allowed to disembark after four days after tests for the virus returned negative.
Thousands of passengers were also ‘marooned’ last month on the MSC Meraviglia after it was refused permission to dock for three days on its tour of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
And passengers on the MS Westerdam were stranded for two weeks before being allowed to dock in Sihanoukiville, Cambodia after 20 people on board suspected of having the deadly coronavirus tested negative.
In a statement from MSC cruises, a spokesperson said: “Health Authorities in Austria today informed us that a passenger of Austrian nationality, who had cruised with us on MSC Opera in the East Mediterranean from February 17 to 28, tested positive yesterday, March 3, for COVID-19.
“This passenger returned directly to Austria through northern Italy on February 28 immediately after disembarking from his cruise in Genoa, Italy.
“MSC Opera earlier today arrived in Piraeus, Greece, and we promptly informed the Greek Health Authorities about this reported case and asked for their guidelines.
“We requested at the same time that passengers, as a precautionary measure, remained on board while awaiting guidance from the local authorities.
“We shared with the local health authorities the ship’s full medical records as well as the medical and travel history records of the former Austrian passenger.
“The Greek health authorities gave MSC Opera permission around 13:00 CET to sail from Piraeus, Greece, and continue its journey to its next scheduled port in Corfu, Greece.
“No additional health measures were required to be taken and the ship is currently sailing as planned.
“There are no passengers or crew members currently on board the ship who have reported any flu-like symptoms.
“The health and safety of our passengers and crew will always remain our top priority.”
This article originally appeared in the The Sun and was republished with permission