United Kingdom

Miami cruise ship blocked from two ports over to coronavirus fears arrives in Mexico

A cruise ship that was blocked from docking in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands due coronavirus fears has arrived in Mexico as passengers wait to hear whether they will be allowed to go ashore.

The MSC Meraviglia, which is carrying 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew from Miami, is currently waiting off shore at Cozumel having been forced to skip the last two stops on its itinerary after a crew member fell sick.

The ship is due in port Thursday morning where health inspectors will come aboard before making a final ruling on whether or not people will be allowed off the boat.

A spokesman for the cruise line said the inspection is routine, and that the company 'very much expects' that people will be allowed off.  

The ship previously ran into trouble after a member of the crew, from the Philippines, fell sick with flu-like symptoms prompting fears they had coronavirus - but has since tested positive for Type A flu. 

Cruise ship MSC Meraviglia is currently waiting off the coast of Cozumel, Meixco (pictured), where it is due to dock Thursday before health inspectors will decide whether passengers can come ashore

It comes after the ship was blocked from Jamaica and the Cayman Islands over coronavirus fears after a member of the crew tested positive for Type A flu (pictured, ship interior)

Despite the flu diagnosis, health authorities in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands decided not to allow people off the boat at Ocho Rios and George Town.  

It comes after the MS Westerdam was rejected from five ports in Asia earlier this month amid fears over coronavirus, despite there being no confirmed cases on board at the time.

It also comes after an actual coronavirus outbreak on board the Diamond Princess ship sickened almost 700 and killed four.  

Mexican media reported overnight that the ship had initially been blocked by health authorities, before the block was rescinded.

The cruise industry has found itself at the centre of fears surrounding coronavirus, with shares in the industry's three largest firms - Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line - down around 15 per cent since the beginning of the year.

Companies have all warned that bookings have been 'soft' since the outbreak began in China in December last year.

More than 50 cruises have been cancelled, seven ports closed and thousands of holidaymakers’ plans disrupted due to coronavirus, the Financial Times reported. 

MSC said that the crew member in question had boarded the ship in Miami on Sunday after travelling from Manila, in the Philippines, via the Turkish city of Istanbul.

All passengers and crew passed health checks before being allowed to depart. 

After the ship docks in Cozumel (file image) health officials will carry out a routine inspection before passengers are allowed off the boat 

The crew member reported to the on-board medical station at some point between Sunday and the ship's arrival in Ocho Rios on Tuesday. 

Online records show that the ship arrived in Ocho Rios around 8.20am local time on Tuesday. It then remained held in port until 1.20pm, when it departed.  

The ship then set its next port of call as George Town, but that quickly changed to Cozumel after health authorities blocked it.

It arrived in Cozumel around 10pm local time Wednesday, and is currently being held off shore due to high winds. It is expected to early Thursday. 

Dwayne Seymour, health minister for the Cayman Islands, said: 'In an abundance of caution... the government has denied permission for the cruise ship to call on Grand Cayman as previously scheduled.'

The ship's next port of call after the Cayman Islands was due to be Cozumel, in Mexico, before a stop at on a private island in the Bahamas.

It was then due to return to Miami on March 1.

One passenger said that bottles of hand sanitizer had been placed around the ship for people to use, and that people were being encouraged to clean their hands before and after eating.

Photos posted by other passengers on board showed that people had been allowed to roam freely around the deck.

News about the Meraviglia broke as Indonesia announced it was evacuating 1,800 cruise ship staff from on board the World Dream cruise ship, where they have been stranded since February 9.

The ship had been denied entry in Thailand after it was revealed that three Chinese nationals who had taken part in an earlier cruise had tested positive for coronavirus.

The vessel was eventually allowed to dock in Hong Kong and passengers allowed off, but the crew were told to remain behind.

Medical boats have now been sent to evacuate the staff members, who may be quarantined for a further 28 days.

Coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people worldwide and killed more than 2,700, with new outbreaks reported this week in South Korea, Iran and Italy

Muhadjir Effendy, Indonesia's chief human development minister, said the navy ship, equipped with medical facilities, would pick up Indonesian crew members.

They would be taken to an uninhabited island with 'good facilities' in the Java Sea north of Jakarta for observation, he said.

'We will observe them according to procedures set by the WHO (World Health Organization),' he said.

Indonesia announced plans last week to bring back 74 of its nationals from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been affected by a coronavirus outbreak.

Indonesia's health minister, Terawan Agus Putranto, told reporters on Monday that the government was still negotiating with the Japanese government on the best way to evacuate the Indonesians.

Separately, Indonesian authorities were investigating a report that a Japanese citizen had tested positive for the coronavirus after traveling to the Southeast Asian country earlier this month.

Meanwhile tourists at a hotel in Tenerife have also been qaurantined after four people from Italy, the centre of a new European outbreak, tested positive.

Hundreds of guests including Britons remain in limbo today with the hotel in quarantine and holidaymakers confined to their bedrooms.

Canary Islands president Angel Victor Torres announced last night that the tourists would have to remain in the H10 Costa Adeje Palace until further notice.

Italy now has 322 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 11 people have died, with towns in the north placed on lockdown to try and contain the spread.

Idonesia has began evacuating some 1,800 crew from the World Dream cruise ship in Hong Kong, where they have been stuck since February 9 amid fears of a coronavirus infection

The staff will now be taken to an abandoned island with a hospital on it where they could be quarantined for another 28 days

The disease has also skipped across the border to Croatia, Switzerland and Austria - all of which confirmed their first cases in patients linked to Italy.

Mainland Spain also reported two cases in Barcelona and Madrid in patients who had recently travelled to northern Italy.

Globally, coronavirus has infected more than 81,000 people and killed 2,700 amid warnings that it could soon become a global pandemic.

Bruce Aylward, who leads the joint WHO-China mission of experts, has warned that world leaders are 'simply not ready' to deal with outbreaks and have been given a false sense of security thanks to Beijing's handling of the infection.

He said: 'You have to be ready to manage this at a larger scale... and it has to be done fast,' insisting countries have to 'be ready as if this hits us tomorrow'.

Dozens of countries are now battling outbreaks, with South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran among the worst-affected.

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