Health and Science

Costa Cruises says passenger has common flu, after 6,000 tourists were held amid coronavirus fears

Key Points
  • A passenger on board a cruise ship in Italy has been diagnosed with the common flu, Italian operator Costa Cruises said in a late Thursday statement.
  • Earlier, some 6,000 tourists were held on the cruise ship over fears that the ill passenger could be infected with the coronavirus.
The Costa Smeralda cruise ship docked in the Civitavecchia port on January 30, 2020
Filippo Monteforte | AFP | Getty Images

A passenger on board a cruise ship in Italy has been diagnosed with the common flu, Italian operator Costa Cruises said in a late Thursday statement.

Earlier, some 6,000 tourists were held on the cruise ship over fears that the ill passenger could be infected with the coronavirus.

"Sanitary protocol" had been activated amid concerns over the health of an individual traveling on the ship operated by Costa Cruises. The ship reached the Italian port of Civitavecchia on Thursday morning, where it had sailed from Palma in the Spanish island of Mallorca.

"While we appreciate the inconvenience caused, the procedures in force and our cooperation with the Health Authorities were effective in managing this situation and were intended to ensure maximum safety for all our guests, crew and the community as a whole," Costa Cruises said in its statement announcing that the passenger had the common flu.

The cruise operator had previously confirmed to CNBC that medics onboard had been alerted to a suspected case of the virus in a 54-year-old Chinese woman, who had been kept in isolation alongside her travel companion since Wednesday evening.

Late Thursday, Italy's ministry of health said that the cruise ship samples were negative.

According to The Associated Press, health officials screened 6,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members aboard the ship, and all were being prevented from leaving until the type of virus infecting the woman was determined.

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The cruise ship, the Costa Smeralda, had a seven-day itinerary with several stops planned in ports across the West Mediterranean. Costa Cruises said the ship will remain in Civitavecchia until Friday before departing for Savona and resuming its program.

The cruise ship incident comes as more than 9,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, with more than 200 deaths reported by Chinese authorities.

The vast majority of those cases have been in mainland China. More than 100 cases have been confirmed outside of China, with the virus reported to have reached a number of countries including the United States, Japan and India.