2,000 passengers in coronavirus quarantine as tourist falls ill on cruise ship

More than 2,000 holidaymakers are trapped on a cruise ship and been told not to leave after a former passenger tested positive for coronavirus.

MSC Opera's captain has told the passengers aboard the packed vessel not to leave the ship.

Passengers were urgently called back from excursions and told it was due to a ''security problem'', but once back on the ship they were given the dire news.

Captain Pietro Esposito confirmed previous passenger who had sailed on the ship last week had tested positive for COVID-19.

It came as ship's itinerary had already changed twice due to Governments updating their travel restrictions at a ''fast pace'', reports Mirror.co.uk.

Coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, infecting more than 90,000 people worldwide and killing over 3,000 – with hotspots in China, South Korea and Italy.

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In a letter, the captain said: ''I have just learned – and I wanted you to know straightaway – 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 captain added: "''The male passenger, of Austrian nationality, disembarked from MSC Opera in Genoa, Italy, on Friday morning 28 February, and is currently back in Austria.

''To be clear: this person is not on board.

''We are currently still waiting for further clarity and guidelines from the Austrian Health Authorities and are in touch with the Greek Authorities."

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The letter added: "However, we are proactively taking a number of precautionary and preventative measures to ensure the safety of passengers. 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.''

It comes after around 3,700 passengers were quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess off the coast of Japan – killing six people on board.

The ship was quarantined on February 4 – and by the end of its internment there had been 705 confirmed cases.

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Passenger Mike Knotts and his wife Charysse are amongst those held on the MSC Opera, revealing their tour of the Acropolis of Athens was suddenly cut short due to the threat from coronavirus.

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.

''We weighed up all of this before getting on the ship. 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."

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Meanwhile, last week MSC Meraviglia cruise ship crew members pepper sprayed brawling passengers after anger boiled over about being locked onboard the vessel over coronavirus fears.

Staff on the MSC Meraviglia were filmed grappling with the guests in the liner's dining hall after the cruise ship had been refused port in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Mexico eventually allowed the the vessel to dock and doctors confirmed a female guest and a crew member had the flu – not coronavirus.

Health officials worldwide are now preparing for a global pandemic as the virus shows no signs of slowing down.

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Today, the UK has seen its biggest day-on-day increase in coronavirus cases, with 85 people now confirmed to have the virus.

Three of the 32 new cases in England were passed on in the UK, raising fears that community transmission may now be taking hold.

The jump comes as England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, warned that a UK epidemic is looking "likely".

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister announced new sick pay changes as part of emergency coronavirus legislation so that anyone self-isolating is paid from day one rather than day four as current rules state.

Boris Johnson told MPs that people who self-isolate are "helping to protect all of us by slowing the spread of the virus".

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He added: "If they stay at home and if we ask people to self-isolate, they may lose out financially.

"So, I can today announce that the Health Secretary will bring forward, as part of our emergency coronavirus legislation, measures to allow the payment of statutory sick pay from the very first day you are sick instead of four days under the current rules, and I think that's the right way forward.

"Nobody should be penalised for doing the right thing."

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Prof Whitty said the new cases in the UK included 32 patients from England.

"Twenty-nine patients were diagnosed who had recently travelled from recognised countries or from recognised clusters which were under investigation," he said.

"Three additional patients contracted the virus in the UK and it is not yet clear whether they contracted it directly or indirectly from an individual who had recently returned from abroad. This is being investigated and contact tracing has begun."

  • Coronavirus

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