6,000 tourists in lockdown on Italian cruise ship over coronavirus fears

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Some 6,000 tourists are being held on a cruise ship in Italy over fears that a passenger could be infected with the coronavirus.

“Sanitary protocol” has been activated amid concerns over the health of an individual traveling on the ship operated by Italian firm Costa Cruises. The ship reached the Italian port of Civitavecchia on Thursday morning, where it had sailed from Palma in the Spanish island of Mallorca.

Medics onboard had been alerted to a suspected case of the virus in a 54-year-old Chinese woman, who has been kept in isolation alongside her travel companion since Wednesday evening, Costa Cruises confirmed to CNBC.

“As soon as the suspected case was detected, the medical team on board immediately activated all the relevant health procedures to promptly isolate and manage the clinical condition,” a spokesperson for the company said. “The health authority has been immediately notified and is now on board to conduct all the pertinent measures.”

The woman suffering with symptoms of the illness is from Macao, according to some media reports.

According to The Associated Press, health officials were screening 6,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members aboard the ship, and all were being prevented from leaving until the type of virus infecting the woman was determined.

The cruise ship, the Costa Smeralda, had a seven-day itinerary with several stops planned in ports across the West Mediterranean.

More than 8,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, with 170 deaths reported by Chinese authorities.

The majority of those cases are in mainland China, where at least 7,801 cases have been confirmed. More than 100 cases have been confirmed outside of China, with the virus reported to have reached a number of countries including the United States, Japan and India.

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