A CRUISE ship has been quarantined off the coast of Greece after a previous tourist on the ship tested positive for coronavirus.
All 2,000 passengers have been told to remain on the MSC Opera after being urgently called back from excursions which they were told was due to a "security problem".
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The tourist, believed to be Austrian, travelled on board the cruiseliner last week before departing in Italy.
But it wasn't until after he disembarked and began showing symptoms, that he tested positive for the deadly bug.
A letter to passengers from Captain Pietro Esposito read: "I have just learned – and I wanted you to know straight away – that we have been contacted by the Austrian Health Authorities who have informed us that a previous passenger who sailed with us last week on MSC Opera, has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
"The male passenger, of Austrian nationality, disembarked from MSC Opera in Genoa, Italy, on Friday morning 28 February, and is currently back in Austria.
''To be clear: this person is not on board."
The captain added: "All passengers and crew are requested to remain on board until we have further clarity on the matter."
''Please note there is no reason for concern. We have no indication that suggests there may be an issue currently on board MSC Opera and there are no cases that suggest there may be a case of COVID-19.''
Are you onboard or know someone who is? Please phone +44 (0) 20 7782 4368 or email [email protected]
Passenger Mike Knotts and his wife Charysse told the Daily Mirror that they were suddenly called back to the boat while visiting the Acropolis in Athens.
Mike said: ''We were told that there was a security problem and we had to return to the ship.
''When we got back the captain made an announcement and we were given letters.
''There was lots of drama at the front desk with one man yelling.
"We're now on our way to Corfu but we don't even now if we will be able to get off the ship.''
The couple, from Texas, added: ''My wife's company said we would have to self-isolate on our return because we were going through Italy, so we're not very concerned.
''They have been very strict about hygiene and washing hands.
''We've been on lots of cruises and things happen and you just carry on.''
CORONAVIRUS CRUISE PANIC
The news comes after a number of cruise ships have been quarantined due to coronavirus fears in the past two months.
The Diamond Princess was put on lockdown just off the port of Yokohama last month, and there have now been more than 700 confirmed cases of coronavirus stemming from the ship.
Just last week, a British man in his 80s died after contracting coronavirus on board the ship.
The British man did not live in the UK and was travelling with his female partner. They were among 78 Brits quarantined on the luxury liner off Yokohama.
The 3,600 passengers and crew aboard the World Dream ship were also quarantined in Hong Kong last month amid fears staff could have contracted the virus on a previous voyage.
They were allowed to disembark after four days after tests for the virus returned negative.
Thousands of passengers were also 'marooned' last month on the MSC Meraviglia after it was refused permission to dock for three days on its tour of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
And passengers on the MS Westerdam were stranded for two weeks before being allowed to dock in Sihanoukiville, Cambodia after 20 people on board suspected of having the deadly coronavirus tested negative.
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