Cruise

MSC slams reports of COVID-19 outbreak on ship in Western Australia

MSC has cleared up a portside panic that saw a major emergency response unfold in Western Australia.

On Monday the MSC Magnifica caused quite a stir during a technical call in Freemantle, after disclosing it had “hundreds” of unwell passengers and signalled people may need to disembark for treatment, according to ABC News.

The ship told port authorities it reported 298 unwell passengers over 14 days, sparking a major emergency response for fear the ship may contain an outbreak of COVID-19.

Authorities even preemptively began to free up hospital space in preparation to receive the patience and the federal government discussed sending in Defence assistance.

However, a spokesperson from MSC told Travel Weekly the ship was scheduled to stop in Freemantle but only to refuel before continuing on to Dubai.

“All passengers and crew are well,” the spokesperson said.

“Reports that more than 250 passengers on board are suffering from COVID-19 coronavirus are untrue.

“There is no evidence to suggest this.  Nobody onboard – passengers or crew – has fever, signs of respiratory insufficiency or gastroenteric diseases.  And nobody is in isolation.”

The spokesperson also said the information about the unwell patients was simply listing the total number of people who had visited the onboard medical centre, including for routine illness.

“This is a routine protocol between a ship and a port of call,” they said.

MSC Magnifica was already at sea when the cruise line made the decision to halt all its operations until at least 30 April.

This comes as four people who disembarked from Ruby Princess in Sydney last week tested positive for the virus. The ship was carrying 2,647 people.

Earlier this month, the federal government announced all international arrivals to Australian cruise ports would be suspended for 30 days. However, four cruise ships have since been given “special permission” to dock in Australia.

Featured image credit: iStock.com/studioportosabbia.

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