A cruise ship has been quarantined off the coast of Greece after a previous tourist on 'MSC Opera' tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
All 2,000 passengers have been told to remain on the 'MSC Opera', after holidaymakers were urgently called back from excursions which they were told was due to a “security problem”.
According to reports, the tourist, an Austrian national, had stayed on the ship during a two-week East Mediterranean cruise in February before departing in Italy. It wasn't until after he disembarked that symptoms began showing, and later he was confirmed to have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus.
The following letter signed by Captain Pietro Esposito was sent to guests on board 'MSC Opera':
"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.
We are currently still waiting for further clarity and guidelines from the Austrian Health Authorities, and are in touch with the Greek Authorities, however, we are proactively taking a number of preventive and precautionary measures to ensure the safety of all 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 indications that suggest 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.”
American passengers Mike Knotts and his wife Charysse, told the Daily Mirror that they were suddenly called back to the boat while visiting the Acropolis in Athens.
“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," he recalled.
The Greek Health authorities have given 'MSC Opera' permission to continue its journey from Piraeus to its next scheduled port- Corfu.
"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," a spokesman for MSC Cruises said.
The incident comes after more than 3,700 passengers and crew spent nearly a month in quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan due to coronavirus.