How coronavirus has caused cruise ship chaos: Holidaymakers around the world are trapped on ocean liners as experts say elderly passengers in confined spaces are vulnerable

Thursday, March 5, 2020
By Paul Martin

More than 700 people tested positive during a failed two-week lockdown on the Diamond Princess in Japan
The Westerdam was turned away by five governments over health fears and other journeys have been ruined
Experts say the large number of elderly passengers make ships vulnerable to spread of infectious diseases

5 March 2020

The coronavirus outbreak has highlighted the dangers of travelling on cruise ships packed with elderly passengers after hundreds of people were infected on the Diamond Princess and several other voyages were wrecked by virus fears.

The Diamond Princess became one of the world’s largest clusters of virus cases when more than 700 people tested positive during a two-week quarantine in Japan.

Another vessel, the MS Westerdam, was turned away by five governments in a sign of official panic over cruise ships despite no cases being confirmed on board.

In addition, fears of a cruise ship outbreak off the U.S. coast were growing last night after a former passenger died of coronavirus and 21 people showed possible symptoms.

Several other ships have had their journeys disrupted by the virus after passengers required urgent tests or countries refused them permission to dock.

Experts have highlighted a number of reasons why cruise ships are vulnerable to the spread of disease, including the large number of elderly passengers in a confined space.

There have also been fears that air-conditioning systems could spread the virus, with experts pointing out that ventilation systems were previously linked to the spread of SARS.

Some passengers have started to cancel cruise ship bookings or abandon plans to make them as the virus continues to spread around the world.

Cruise ships have also taken preventative measures themselves, with Royal Caribbean turning away guests with passports from China, Hong Kong and Macau and guarding against arrivals from Italy, Iran and South Korea.

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