(CMR) 6,000 passengers have been banned from disembarking the Costa Smeralda cruise ship docked at the port of Civitavecchia (Rome, Italy) 35 miles north of Rome this morning because of two possible cases of the coronavirus.
A Chinese couple who arrived in Italy on January 25 and boarded the ship that day from China are being quarantined and held in solitary confinement in their cabin as medical examinations are being carried out. It is being reported that they are being kept in separate cabins as the examinations are carried out. Both victims are said to have a fever and difficulty breathing. Test results should be available by this afternoon.
The cruise ship had visited Marseilles in France, and the Spanish ports of Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca this week before docking on Thursday at Civitavecchia, north of Rome.
Costa Crociere, the company which owns the ship, has confirmed that it is in lockdown. No one was being allowed off the ship while medical checks were carried out to see if the pair had the potentially deadly coronavirus, a company spokesman said. He said it might take “a few hours” before the situation became clearer.
The ship is said to have around 6,000 passengers along with 1,000 crew members. The Costa Smeralda is a brand-new ship that only launched in December last year, and cruises around the Mediterranean. It is currently on the last day of a cruise that began at Civitavecchia on January 23 before stopping at La Spezia, Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, and Mallorca.¬†The ship was in the process of docking back at Civitavecchia when it was stopped.
Infections of this disease have now spread over 20 countries with 170 deaths. India and the Philippines have now confirmed their first cases.¬†Many countries are now considering their options as there are over 7,000 cases reported worldwide. Russan has taken extreme measures of closing its eastern borders with China. The United States now has at least 5 reported cases.
Despite the potential of a rapid spread on a cruise ship given the close quarters and such a large number of passengers, the Cayman Islands Government has made no official statements on how it will handle such a situation.
Medical authorities have said they are relying on the World Health Organization to plan the way forward. Despite this many locals remain fearful of the situation. One person shared this morning:
“Cayman could not handle something like this. Right now this virus should be the government's main focus.”