Hundreds held on cruise ship in HK amid check for virus

February 05, 2020 16:30
A government officer gets on a Department of Health ship in Hong Kong on Wednesday before the vessel heads to the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, where the World Dream ship that had been denied entry in Taiwan's Kaohsiung remains docked. Photo: Reuters

More than 1,800 passengers and crew on a cruise ship that docked in Hong Kong on Wednesday were being kept on board while they were tested for a coronavirus after some crew reported fever, Reuters reports.

The cruise ship, World Dream, operated by Dream Cruises, docked in Hong Kong after it was denied entry to the southern Taiwan port of Kaohsiung on Tuesday.

Three mainland Chinese who had been on board from Jan. 19 to Jan. 24 were found to have had the virus, Hong Kong’s health department said, adding that most of those remaining on board were from Hong Kong.

"For the time being, we cannot conclude the likely time of finishing the quarantine measures,” Leung Yiu-hong, an official at Hong Kong's department of health, was quoted as saying.

Dream Cruises, which is operated by Genting Hong Kong, said in a statement that the three "confirmed" cases of the virus had disembarked in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Jan. 24.

Hong Kong saw its first death from the coronavirus virus on Tuesday, and the city has confirmed 18 infection cases, including at least four that were transmitted locally.

Health workers in the city have been on strike this week to demand that local authorities seal the border with China, where the virus originated last month, to block its spread.

The coronavirus epidemic, which began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has rekindled memories in Hong Kong of a 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus that began in China and killed nearly 300 people in the city.

"As the disease is spreading rapidly in our community, and locally infected cases are steadily increasing, we are dangerously close to a massive community outbreak comparable to SARS,” a newly formed union called the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance said in a statement.

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