Egypt confirms 33 new cases of coronavirus on Nile cruise ship

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Egypt confirmed on Saturday 33 new cases of coronavirus on a cruise ship on the River Nile that officials said the previous day had been struck by the virus, the health minister said.

None of the cases were showing symptoms of the illness, Health Minister Hala Zayed told reporters.

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A Taiwanese-American tourist who had previously been on the same ship tested positive when she returned to Taiwan. The World Health Organization informed Egyptian authorities, who tested everyone currently on the ship.

Health authorities found a dozen of the ship's Egyptian crew members had contracted the fast-spreading virus, but did not show symptoms, according to a statement Friday.

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On Saturday, 19 foreigners tested positive on the ship traveling between Aswan and Luxor, as well as 14 more Egyptians who are most likely crew members. After a second test, 11 Egyptians tested negative, the Egyptian health minister said.

Egypt’s health ministry said that 171 passengers were onboard the ship, including 101 foreign nationals.

In Egypt, there are now 48 infections since mid-February.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said that “Egypt is safe and the situation is under control.”

Other cruise ships

The Asara is the latest in a string of cruise ships turned floating quarantine centers.

Experts have said that cruise ships are not a good place for quarantine, as the confined space leads to the virus amplifying. The ships are also not prepared to handle a large scale outbreak, AP reported.

A cruise ship off the coast of California with more than 3,500 passengers was stuck at sea after 19 crew members and two passengers tested positive on Friday. The Grand Princess was originally bound for San Francisco, but now may be sent to a non-commercial port.

Holland America’s MS Westerdam cruise ship was turned away from docking in five countries before Cambodia allowed the ship’s passengers to disembark on February 13. Two days later, an American who had previously traveled to Malaysia was the ship’s first confirmed case.

A banner is seen on the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 12, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
A banner is seen on the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 12, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

The Diamond Princess first made headlines at the beginning of February when a passenger on the ship tested positive for coronavirus. Seven passengers died and more than 700 on the ship tested positive for COVID-19, or coronavirus. While docked off Japan’s coast, some countries, including the US, sent teams to evacuate their citizens from the ship. Passengers began disembarking near the end of February.

- With agencies

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