ANOTHER cruise liner is banned from docking, with Phuket refusing passengers to disembark Costa Fortuna because there are hundreds of ‘high risk’ Italians on board
- The Costa Fortuna was turned back because 64 people had recently been in Italy
- Cruise operator Costa Crociere says there are no suspected virus cases on board
- Thailand yesterday added restrictions on arrivals from countries including Italy
A cruise ship was turned away by Thailand over coronavirus fears today after authorities raised the alarm over dozens of Italian passengers.
The Costa Fortuna was denied permission to dock on the island of Phuket because 64 people on board had been in Italy in the last 14 days, Thai media said.
The cruise operator says there are no cases on board but health authorities around the world have become wary of ocean liners after a spate of virus scares at sea.
Thailand added Italy to a list of ‘dangerous communicable disease areas’ in a tightening of restrictions just yesterday.
The cruise ship Costa Fortuna (file photo) was denied permission to dock on the island of Phuket because 64 people on board had been in Italy in the last 14 days, Thai media said
Egypt has today detected 12 new cases of coronavirus among workers aboard a Nile cruise boat, officials said.
The 12 patients tested positive but did not show any symptoms, a joint statement with the World Health organisation said.
Authorities were alerted after it was found that a Taiwanese tourist who travelled on the ship had caused the virus to spread, they said.
The individuals are all Egyptian workers on the ship, officials say.
The boat had been heading down the Nile from Aswan to the southern city of Luxor.
Egypt had previously confirmed three virus cases.
According to Phuket News, the Costa Fortuna is carrying 2,615 people including 282 Italians.
Of those, 64 were found to have been in Italy within the last two weeks, meaning they were denied entry into Thailand.
Thai officials also refused permission for the other passengers to dock, fearing that any infected Italians could have passed on the virus to their fellow tourists.
‘They must stay on the ship, and the ship must remain about two nautical miles from shore,’ Thai police officer Narong Chanaphaikul said.
Genoa-based cruise operator Costa Crociere says the passengers are ‘all healthy’ and there are no suspected cases on board, according to Sky Italia.
‘The health situation on board is clear and there is no suspected case on the ship among Italian or other nationalities,’ a statement said.
‘In a constantly changing situation, we confirm that the safety of our guests and crew members is a top priority.’
It is not yet clear where the ship, which reportedly has a total of 1,631 passengers and 984 crew on board, will go next.
As well as the Italians there are 151 French nationals, 230 Germans, three Chinese and two Singaporeans on board, among others.
Thailand had yesterday announced compulsory quarantine measures for several virus hotspots including Italy.
Arrivals from South Korea, China, Macao, Hong Kong, Italy and Iran will have to provide authorities with their address and travel plan before isolating themselves for 14 days.
Thai health workers have started disinfecting packages from abroad (pictured in Bangkok yesterday), although there have been no cases of people being infected through the mail
The four countries and two Chinese territories were classified as ‘dangerous communicable disease areas’ in an official announcement.
‘Thais and foreigners who came from these places will have to go through self-quarantine for 14 days at home or in a hotel room, where they have to report themselves to the authorities every day or officials will come to check on them,’ health ministry spokesman Rungrueng Kitphati said.
Those who breach the quarantine rules will face a 20,000 baht (£480) fine, Rungrueng said.
Arrivals who display coronavirus symptoms will be sent directly to government hospitals.
The order will be effective from Friday.
Thailand has also prepared facilities for the 14-day quarantine of thousands of Thai workers gradually returning from the South Korean province of Gyeongsang and the city of Daegu, currently epicenters of the virus outbreak, the government said.
The country has recorded a total of 47 coronavirus cases since January, with one fatality.
Thirty-one of the coronavirus patients have recovered and returned home, while 15 are still being treated in hospitals.
Among the other latest measures taken by the Thai authorities to halt the spread of the flu-like disease is the plan to disinfect packages from overseas.
Thai officials have imposed the new restriction even though there have been no reports of the virus being contracted from the mail.
‘Thailand’s post offices will disinfect every package arriving from overseas, at headquarters, including at Suvarnabhumi airport, Lak Si post offices, express mail service and delivery trucks,’ Thailand Post CEO Korkij Danchaivichit, told reporters.
In a separate cruise ship scare, testing kits have been delivered to the Grand Princess by helicopter (pictured) off the coast of California after a former passenger died of coronavirus
In advice to the public posted on its website, the WHO says: ‘People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus.
‘From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.’
Health authorities have had a suspicious eye on cruise ships in recent weeks after a number of voyages were disrupted by virus scares.
In the most serious case, 705 people tested positive for the virus on board the Diamond Princess during a two-week lockdown in Japan.
Japanese authorities said last week that a British tourist who had been on board the Diamond Princess had died after contracting coronavirus.
Another ship, the Grand Princess, is being held off the coast of California with testing kits flown in by helicopter after a former passenger died of the virus.
Separately, the cruise ship Westerdam was turned away at five ports last month before it finally arrived in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville. There were no cases on board.
Several other ships have had their journeys disrupted by the virus after passengers required urgent tests or countries refused them permission to dock.
Experts have highlighted a number of reasons why cruise ships are vulnerable to the spread of disease, including the large number of elderly passengers in a confined space.
Some passengers have started to cancel cruise ship bookings or abandon plans to make them as the virus continues to spread around the world.
Cruise ships have also taken preventative measures themselves, with Royal Caribbean turning away guests with passports from China, Hong Kong and Macau and guarding against arrivals from Italy, Iran and South Korea.
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