Cruise ships are struggling to maintain their itineraries amid fears related to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.
The latest ship to fall victim of stringent precautionary measures adopted by international governments is M/V Costa Favolosa.
Namely, the ship, operated by Italian-based Costa Cruises, was scheduled to call at the Virgin Islands on Wednesday, February 26, but was denied access.
The Government of the Virgin Islands said that the decision was made in the light of public health and safety measures and followed a consultation with the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and other senior health officials.
“It was reported that a number of passengers had flown directly from Italy and had joined the ship in Guadeloupe within the last six days. This period is within the 14-day incubation period of COVID-19. It was also reported that 5 passengers had fallen ill with 3 people testing positive for the Influenza A Virus, and are isolated on board the ship. It was determined that the ship was unable to conduct the test for the presence or absence of COVID-19,” a statement from the government reads.
Italy has been faced with a rapid increase of coronavirus cases recorded over the past ten days, forcing the country to quarantine certain cities and cancel its carnival activities.
Based on the latest information from Italy’s Department of Civil Protection, dated February 27, 650 people have been infected with the virus.
The Government of the Virgin Islands said it was working with all cruise lines calling at its ports to ensure enhanced health and safety screening procedures and practices.
“The cruise industry is of critical importance to the territory and all efforts would be jointly made on a case-by-case basis to ensure the health and safety of residents and guests,” the statement from the government further reads.
The move comes on the back of MSC Meraviglia being denied port calls and disembarkation in Jamaica and Cayman Islands earlier this week.
To remind, the cruise ship with over 4,500 passengers on board and over 1,600 crew members was denied port access and disembarkation amid coronavirus precaution measures.
MSC Cruises told World Maritime News in a statement that one of its crew members had a confirmed case of Influenza, but that the person was stable and recovering.
The company pointed out that no cases of COVID-19 virus had been reported on board MSC Meraviglia or any other ship in MSC Cruises’ fleet.
The ship resumed its voyage to Cozumel, Mexico, where it berthed on Thursday, February 27.
Local health authorities boarded the ship on the same day to conduct customary checks provided for by maritime protocols. The health officials tested two people on board for coronavirus.
“MSCCruises has received official confirmation from Mexican Health authorities following medical testing conducted overnight that the two people on board MSCMeraviglia in Cozumel are affected only by seasonal flu (not COVID-19). The ship has been cleared for disembarkation,” the company said yesterday.
MSC Meraviglia is scheduled to stay in Cozumel through to the end of Friday, February 28.