Coronavirus: Cruise liner headed for Malta carrying out voluntary quarantine in Greece

The cruise ship MSC Opera has no reported cases of Covid-19 onboard but opted for voluntary quarantine after a tourist who disembarked from the ship a week ago was diagnosed with coronavirus

MSC Opera
MSC Opera

The Swiss-operated MSC Opera will dock in Malta on Saturday but it's currently undergoing a voluntary quarantine at Piraeus port in Greece.

The reason is that a former passenger, an Austrian national, was recently diagnosed with Covid-19 back in Austria. 

The Austrian national had stayed on the ship during a two-week East Mediterranean cruise in February before traveling through northern Italy, which is facing Europe's biggest outbreak.

Austrian health officials contacted MSC Cruises and the Greek health authorities after the cruise liner, which can carry more than 3,300 passengers and crew, arrived in the port city of Piraeus. It has since been given the all-clear but the vessel's captain decided on an extra precautionary measure and ordered a voluntary quarantine before heading to Corfu.

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This particular ship does not usually port in Malta. The MSC Opera usually has Turkey in its itinerary, docking there for a day. However, ports in Turkey are prohibiting the entry of any cruise liners as an extreme precaution against the coronavirus. For this reason, Malta has been listed as an unscheduled visit, a source told MaltaToday.

"No Maltese will be boarding the MSC Opera, but 4,000 passengers will have a full-day excursion on Saturday," the source said.

Valletta Cruise Port CEO, Stephen Xuereb, told MaltaToday that he is informed that MSC Opera is scheduled to complete its itinerary.

"A vessel entering a port always provides a declaration. I am informed that MSC Opera has a clean bill of health. If there's no danger and if the health authorities give it the go-ahead, we have no objections," Xuereb said.

He added that thermal screening takes place as per protocol at the terminals and the authorities could take a decision of whether they would allow disembarkations on the spot.

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The male passenger who was diagnosed with Covid-19 disembarked from MSC Opera in Genoa, Italy, on Friday morning, February 28, and is currently back in Austria. He was diagnosed back home.

“No additional health measures were required to be taken and the ship is currently sailing as planned. There are no passengers or crew members currently onboard the ship who have reported any flu-like symptoms. The health and safety of our passengers and crew will always remain our top priority,” a spokesman for MSC Cruises said.