Coronavirus fears have been raised on board a new cruise ship after it was blocked from docking in Jamaica because a member of its crew was sick.
The MSC Meraviglia, which is carrying more than 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew from Miami, was barred from making port in Ocho Rios on Tuesday when officials discovered that a member of the crew was in isolation with flu-like symptoms.
Health minister Chris Tufton said the decision was taken because the person had a fever, cough, muscle pains and had been to a ‘country of interest’ linked with coronavirus.
The ship is now headed for Georgetown, the capital of the Cayman Islands, where health authorities have already said it will not be able to dock.
It comes after cruise ship MS Westerdam was rejected from five ports earlier this month amid fears over coronavirus, and after an outbreak of the disease on the Diamond Princess ship which sickened more than 600 and killed four.
The MSC Meraviglia cruise ship was turned away from port in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, on Tuesday and has already been told it cannot dock in the Cayman Islands over coronavirus fears (file)
It comes after a member of the crew from the Philippines was quarantined after suffering flu-like symptoms, though MSC insists that there is no coronavirus on board
It is unclear what will become of the Meraviglia, which departed from Miami on Sunday and was due to cruise around the Caribbean for a week.
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.
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.
The cruise line said the person has tested positive for Type A influenza, rather than coronavirus, and has been placed in quarantine.
Still, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands were taking no chances.
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.
While still on its way to the Cayman Islands, where it was due to arrive on Wednesday morning, health authorities confirmed it will also not be granted access to the port.
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.’
Passengers had been due to spend the day in Ocho Rios before being barred from coming ashore. The ship is due to call in Mexico before going back to Miami
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.