An Italian cruise ship with 7,000 people on board is being held off the coast after a Chinese woman fell ill with a suspected case of coronavirus.
The Costa Smeralda vessel is currently being held in port at Civitavecchia, 35 miles north of Rome, after a 54-year-old woman from Macau came down with a fever.
She and her husband, who is not thought to have symptoms, were immediately placed in solitary confinement and have been tested for the virus.
7,000 people have been quarantined aboard cruise ship Costa Smeralda in the Italian port city of Civitavecchia, 35 miles north of Rome, amid a suspected case of coronavirus (pictured, social media images believed to show passengers on board the ship)
A 54-year-old woman from Macau is thought to have alerted medics on the ship (pictured today) to symptoms including fever and respiratory problems on Wednesday night
Healthcare workers have placed the woman and her husband, who is not thought to have symptoms, in solitary confinement while tests are carried out (pictured, other passengers on board the ship)
The woman, who has not been identified, contacted medics on board on Wednesday night to say she had a temperature and was suffering respiratory problems, Corriere della Sera reports.
The couple have been placed in separate isolated rooms in the ship’s medical bay, Repubblica reports.
Test results are due this afternoon, with other passengers barred from leaving the ship until they come back.
The ship is believed to be carrying around 6,000 passengers, along with another 1,000 crew members.
Of those, 751 are though to be Chinese, of which 374 embarked in Savona.
Costa Crociere, the company which owns the ship, has confirmed that it is in lockdown.
The Costa Smeralda, the company’s flagship and the fifth-largest cruise ship in the world, ‘came from Palma de Mallorca and is currently engaged in one-week cruises in the western Mediterranean,’ it said.
‘The couple’s cabin has been isolated and they are in with the doctors,’ an unnamed passenger was quoted as telling ANSA news agency.
‘We’re a bit worried of course. No-one is getting on or off the ship apart from the doctors. This holiday risks ending in a nightmare’.
Vincenzo Leone, head of the Lazio coastguard, said: ‘We are waiting to know the outcome of the checks still in progress, but everything that needed to be done has been done.
‘The situation is under control and at the moment there is no reason for concern on board.’
The ship was on its last day of a round-the-Mediterranean cruise when it came to dock at Civitavecchia – where it departed on January 23 – when it was stopped
The couple are thought to have flown in to Milan on January 25 before joining the ship at Savona, then stopped at Marseille, Barcelona and Palma before going back to Civitavecchia
The ship is currently being held at Civitavecchia, where passengers were due to disembark today on the final day of their cruise
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.
The couple are thought to have boarded at Savona on January 25, having flown from Hong Kong to Milan’s international airport the same day.
The cruise ship is not the only site of a suspected coronavirus outbreak in Italy.
A 24-year-old woman has been placed in isolation in Alessandria hospital after falling ill upon her return home from Shanghai, where she had been living for six months.
She has been tested for coronavirus, with results due by Friday morning.
In Rome, a Chinese couple have also been taken to hospital with a suspected case of coronavirus after the husband fell ill shortly after arriving from his home country.
The woman has not shown symptoms, but is being kept in hospital as a precaution.
Elsewhere Russia has closed its eastern border with China in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease, with cases reported in 20 countries around the world.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said the drastic measure was necessary because the country ‘had to do everything it could to protect its people’. He said it would come into effect immediately.
As well as shutting off the Far East border, Russia has limited all railway links with China from January 31, leaving only direct trains between Moscow and Beijing.
The killer coronavirus rapidly sweeping the world has now infected every region of China and 20 other countries. The death toll is 170 and cases have soared past 7,900
World Health Organization figures show just 2,014 patients had been struck down with the SARS-like infection by Sunday, January 26. This has now risen dramatically to 7,817, with cases in the US, Australia and Canada
Passengers wait to hear news of their flight at Heathrow Airport as BA announced the cancellation of all flights to mainland China
Russia does not have any confirmed cases of the new virus but the government has set up a task force to track down and screen people who have travelled from Wuhan, to prevent its possible spread.
Chinese officials have now confirmed more than 7,900 cases, while more than 100 have been recorded outside of nation.
Deaths have also risen to 170, with 38 patients dying in one day – the biggest 24-hour jump since the outbreak began last month.
It comes after three Japanese people who were evacuated from Wuhan have tested positive for coronavirus – while India has become the latest country to confirm a case.
Two of the Japanese nationals did not show symptoms when they boarded the plane on Wednesday – fuelling fears hosts of the virus may be spreading it unwittingly.
They were among 206 passengers flown to Tokyo from the epicentre of the outbreak, which has so far killed 170 and infected nearly 8,000 worldwide.
While the vast majority of cases have been in China, more than 100 have appeared in about 20 other countries and territories, including the US, Canada, France and Australia.