Thousands of cruise passengers were reportedly stuck on a ship in Italy amid fears that Chinese holidaymakers were carrying the deadly coronavirus.
Up to 7,000 passengers and crew were thought to have been held on the Costa Smeralda, where a couple from China were reportedly put in isolation after showing symptoms of the deadly virus.
However, the AFP news agency later reported preliminary coronavirus tests came back negative.
The vessel was docked in Civitavecchia, north-west of Rome.
The news came as Brits who were hoping to fly home from coronavirus-hit Wuhan were left stuck in China after officials refused permission for their flight to take off.
Passengers shared images of people sitting on floors in public areas on the ship as they waited for information.
Intanto a Civitavecchia siamo bloccati in nave Costa senza sapere il motivo ( ufficialmente).. pic.twitter.com/dijqwKaQxj— Filippo🇮🇹 (@Filippo64416163) January 30, 2020
One passenger, Filippo, also posted photos of police officers stood on the dock, writing: “Meanwhile in Civitavecchia we are stuck in Costa ship without knowing the reason (officially).”
“They are doing checks on 2 Chinese passengers and for now (logical) they don't tell us anything else. A bit of burden ...”
Italian media reported that authorities fear that if the Chinese couple are found to have coronavirus, it could already have spread to hundreds of people on board the ship.
The Costa Smeralda arrived in Civitavecchia from Palma de Mallorca and was due to arrive in La Spezia in Italy on Friday.
According to reports, the couple have already been tested for coronavirus.
It is possible that other passengers will now have to undergo medical screening.
Ernesto Tedesco, mayor of Civitavecchia, told TRC Giornale: “There is a suspected case of coronavirus at the port of Civitavecchia.”
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