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Possible Virus Case Traps 7,000 on Carnival Cruise Ship in Italy

BLOOMBERG, January 30, 2020

Passenger shows virus symptoms; authorities hold ship in port. Ship was bound for Italy’s Ligurian coast, now held near Rome.

A cruise ship owned by Carnival Corp. was blocked from leaving an Italian port with some 7,000 people on board, after a passenger came down with symptoms that raised concerns about a possible case of coronavirus.

Carnival’s Italian unit Costa Crociere SpA said that a 54-year-old woman from Macau is currently in isolation on board its Costa Smeralda cruise ship in the port of Civitavecchia, near Rome.

READ: Royal Caribbean Cruises cancels more China sailings on virus worries

A medical team from a Rome hospital examined the patient, who demonstrated fever and respiratory symptoms, this morning, according to the Italian Coast Guard. Further operations on the ship “will be decided later,” a Coast Guard spokesman said.

The Costa Smeralda case could mark the first case of a cruise ship being affected by the coronavirus. Cruise vessels, where passengers are in close contact over extended periods of time, are particularly susceptible to outbreaks and spreads of viruses. It would also be the first confirmed case of the disease in Italy.

Carnival Corp. shares fell as much as 11% in London and traded down 6.7% at 12:52 p.m. local time.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told reporters during a visit to Sofia that Italy was adopting all the measures necessary to tackle risks linked to the virus, adding that “there is no need to spread alarmism or to fuel any form of panic.”

READ: Are cruise lines ready to deal with the new pandemic out of China?

“As soon as the suspected case emerged, medical staff onboard immediately activated the necessary health procedures,” Costa Crociere said in a statement. “Our priority is to guarantee the health and safety of our guests and team.”

Italian media reported that passengers were protesting the lockdown of the ship and lack of information via Twitter.

The ship was bound for La Spezia in the Liguria region, with 1,000 crew and 6,000 passengers, 750 of whom came from China, a port spokesman said.

The incident Thursday brought back memories of the 2012 disaster involving Carnival’s Costa Concordia cruise ship, which capsized near the Tuscan coast, killing 32 people.

— With assistance by Sonia Sirletti, John Follain, and Flavia Rotondi

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