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6,000 passengers trapped on cruise ship amid fear of coronavirus cases in Italy

Approximately 6,000 people were held on board a cruise ship in Italy on Thursday amid concerns that two passengers might have the new coronavirus that has spread from Wuhan, China.

Passengers are being held on board the Costa Smeralda cruise ship in Civitavecchia, Italy, while health officials investigate. No one has been allowed to leave the ship.

Two Chinese passengers were being tested for the virus, a spokesperson for the Costa Crociere cruise company said on Thursday. The Chinese couple boarded the ship on Jan. 25 in Savona, Italy, the company says. They later reported symptoms of fever and difficulty breathing.

A 54-year-old woman from Macau was exhibiting the symptoms, BBC News reports. She has been placed in isolation, and officials are also checking her husband, who has not reported symptoms.

The cruise ship has been making the rounds in Europe with stops in Marseilles, France, and Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. It arrived in Civitavecchia, Italy, on Thursday.

The Costa Crociere spokesperson says it will likely take “a few hours” before the situation can be sorted out.

Costa Crociere is an Italian subsidiary of Carnival Cruises, one of the largest cruise lines in the world.

The potential cruise ship cases come amid rising fears of an outbreak at sea. Royal Caribbean Cruises announced on Wednesday that it would cancel three trips in China.

The coronavirus outbreak has sparked global fears after it emerged in China late last year. The disease has killed at least 170 people in China, and a handful of cases have been reported in other parts of the world, including Canada, the United States and Australia.

With files from Reuters

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