Possible coronavirus case on cruise ship with 6,000 passengers docked in Italy

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(NBC) ROME — More than 100 Americans are on board a cruise ship that has a passenger showing symptoms of the coronavirus, officials said Thursday.

“The guest, a 54 years old lady of Chinese nationality, is currently put on isolation on the onboard hospital since last night together with her travel mate, in line with health protocols.” said a statement from Costa Crociere, an Italian company that operates the Costa Smeralda ship, which is carrying 1,000 crew members and 6,000 passengers.

Of those travelers, 114 are American, cruise line spokesman Davide Barbano said.

“Costa Cruises confirms the sanitary protocol has been activated for a guest on-board of Costa Smeralda,” the cruise operator said in a statement.

“As soon as the suspected case was detected, the Medical Team on board immediately activated all the relevant health procedures to promptly isolate and manage the clinical condition.”

The ship has 1,143 passengers who are scheduled to end their cruise in Civitavecchia, a port city about 50 miles northwest of Rome.

Health officials with the maritime authority in Civitavecchia have given those travelers permission to leave the ship — but that city’s mayor asked for that disembarkment to be delayed until the results of all medical tests were known.

The maritime authority agreed to that delay, according to Patrick Vignola, a spokesman for the mayor.

“The mayor himself does not have the authority to overrule decisions by the port authority,” Vignola told NBC News on Thursday.

“Nevertheless, once we learned that more than a thousand passengers were going to be allowed to disembark, he sent a request to the health ministry, the port authority and health authority to keep all passengers on board until the result of the tests clears the suspicion of coronavirus.”

Vignola added: “He did that because as a mayor he is responsible for the well-being of his citizens, and worried port workers were asking him, `How do we know we are safe?’ We are glad the authorities listened to our plea.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how long it would take for all test results to come back.

More than 7,800 people in China have been infected by the virus that emerged in the central city of Wuhan. China has reported 170 deaths.

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