Coronavirus cases are on the rise globally, with the number currently standing at 119,134 worldwide. Belgium is one of many European countries with multiples cases reported – a total of 267 at the time of writing. Fears for the virus have led to an AIDA Cruises cruise ship being held at the port of Zeebrugge.
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The cruise ship has been confirmed as the AIDAmar, belonging to German crusie line AIDA Cruises.
West Flanders provincial governor Carl Decaluwé has banned the cruise ship from docking.
Local Belgian media has reported that there are concerns there may be coronavirus onboard.
“No one is allowed to leave the ship as long as there is no clarity. I have given the shipping police the necessary instructions,” said Decaluwé, reported De Krant Van West-Vlaanderen.
“The doctor on board must first judge whether it is safe to let the passengers go ashore.”
An AIDA Cruises spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “The call of AIDAmar at the port of Zeebrügge is delayed today, March 11, 2020, because the local authorities are investigating a case.
“For AIDA Cruises, the safety, health and well-being of our guests and crew have top priority at all times. We work closely with the responsible authorities and provide information immediately.
Passengers – most of whom local media reports as being German – have taken to Twitter to share their frustration.
One tweeted in Dutch: “We are on board the AidaMar which is not allowed to dock in Zeebruge. There is really nothing going on here, it would only be about two people who might have been in contact with someone with Corona. Hopefully disembarking in Rotterdam tomorrow?”
AIDAmar has a capacity of 2,686 passengers and 620 crew members. It has eight restaurants, 13 cafes and bars, 2,600m2 of wellness and 12 lounges and clubs.
There are 1096 guest cabins onboard the ship.
It sailed from Southampton onto Paris before heading Zeebrugge on a seven-day cruise.
The ship is due to sail onto Rotterdam and Hamburg next.
The news comes after another AIDA Cruises ship was held off the coast of France.
AIDAsol is being held off the south of France amid fears of the deadly virus onboard.
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Two passengers who were travelling on the ship were taken off for testing in Marseille.
The AIDAsol cruise ship is able to carry more than 2,100 passengers.
An AIDA Cruises spokesman told Express.co.uk yesterday: “The call of AIDAsol at the port of Marseille is delayed today, March 10, 2020, because the local authorities are investigating a case.
“For AIDA Cruises, the safety, health and well-being of our guests and crew have top priority at all times.
“We work closely with the responsible authorities and provide information immediately.”
Meanwhile, the US has warned its citizens to avoid all cruises altogether as a growing number of cruise ships are being turned into quarantines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on its website that the “CDC recommends travellers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.”
The CDC added: “Recent reports of COVID-19 on cruise ships highlight the risk of infection to cruise ship passengers and crew.
“Like many other viruses, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships.”
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