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WORLD | 30-01-2020 14:47

35 Argentines on cruise face possible coronavirus threat

Some 7,000 tourists are stranded onboard a ship 80km from Rome, after 54-year-old Chinese woman started showing symptoms of virus onboard.

Some 7,000 tourists – including approximately 35 Argentines – are stranded on board a Costa cruise ship near the port of Civitavecchia, 80 kilometres from Rome, Italy, amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak.

According to ANSA, after the case was reported, specialists from Spallanzani hospital entered the ship and attended to a Chinese tourist with a feverish condition.

The Costa cruise company, one of the world's largest cruise companies, reported that "the woman, 54, was put in an isolated room in the onboard infirmary along with her travelling companion.”

The couple in question flew to Milan from Hong Kong on January 25, before boarding the cruise ship in Genoa.

However, according to the agency, the first checks have shown that the situation was not worrying and that the woman may only have "mild" flu-like symptoms.

While waiting for the results of the tests, Italian Premier Minister Giuseppe Conte called on the passengers not to be alarmed and assured the Italian government was "attentive" to the situation.

35 Argentines

A woman identified as Gabriela, one of the people on the cruise-ship, spoke to the TN news channel on Thursday. 

"We had to go to Rome for an excursion, and we were told that we were delayed because there were routine health controls," explained the Argentine tourist from the cruise.

"The captain warned through loudspeakers that due to the coronavirus, they were going to make take more exhaustive controls than usual," she added.

Among the passengers, there are 35 people of Argentine nationality, according to the nation's consul in Rome, María Lucía Dougherty de Sánchez.

According to the official, they learned through via social networks that a suspicious case of a woman from Macao was being investigated.

"Up here we are super quiet. There are people sunbathing, going to eat," she uttered, indicating their trip at sea was continuing almost as normal.

She also explained that among her group of friends there is a doctor who gave them recommendations.

"He told us how to cough, not to touch our faces with our hands, to put alcohol gel on frequently, not to touch railings," she precised.

"Of course we're a little worried. No one gets on or off the boat except the doctors. This vacation risks ending up being a nightmare," said another passenger.

The 750 Chinese passengers on board appear to be in good health, according to local media reports.

More infections

China on Thursday reported the worst death toll in one day, 38, from the virus, while global concern is growing with more and more infections.

The World Health Organisation, which urged the "whole world to act", is meeting Thursday, January 30, to determine whether the epidemic constitutes an international health emergency. Moments ago, the organisation declared a "global health emergency."

In this context, Russia announced that it will close its 4,250 km border with China to help stop the advance of this new strain of coronavirus, which has already left a balance of at least 170 deaths and more than 7,700 people infected in the Asian country.

The disease started in China and has already spread to other countries in the Asian region: Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and India.

China has taken extraordinary measures to stop the spread of the virus, including effectively quarantining more than 50 million people in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei Province.

The pathogen is believed to have emerged in a market that sold wild animals and spread during the Chinese New Year holiday season when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel within the country or abroad.

– TIMES/PERFIL

Four cases were also detected in the United Arab Emirates. Within Europe, three countries have already reported people infected: France, Germany and Finland.

The disease has also spread to other, more distant continents such as Oceania (Australia) and the Americas (Canada and the United States).

- TIMES/PROFILE/AFP

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