Cruise ships are looking for safe harbour on four continents amid fears they are spreading the new coronavirus that has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide.
As the outbreak has moved beyond its epicentre in China, cruise ships have increasingly been in the spotlight.
On Saturday, they faced trouble in waters off California, Malaysia, Egypt and Malta as those aboard were tested or confined to cabins.
Officials in California are deciding where to dock the Grand Princess cruise ship, after 21 people on board tested positive for the virus.
There is evidence the ship, now idling off San Francisco, was the breeding ground for a deadly cluster of almost 20 cases during an earlier voyage.
Image: Passengers on the Grand Princess watch a helicopter land as it delivers coronavirus testing kits
Hundreds of people were forced to remain on a Carnival Panorama cruise ship docked in Long Beach, California, while tests were carried out on a sick passenger.
In Egypt, a cruise ship on the Nile with more than 150 people on board is under quarantine in the southern city of Luxor after 12 positive tests.
More from Covid-19
Also on Saturday, the port of Penang in Malaysia turned away the cruise ship Costa Fortuna because 64 of the 2,000 aboard are from Italy. The ship had already been rejected by Thailand, and is now heading to Singapore.
And in Malta, which reported its first case of the virus Saturday, the MSC Opera ship agreed not to enter the Mediterranean country’s port amid local worries – even though there are no infections suspected on board.
The ship continued on to Messina, Sicily, where passengers were allowed to disembark after officials reviewed medical records.
Meanwhile, Iran has declared a “sacred jihad” against the virus after more than 1,000 infections were confirmed overnight, bringing the country’s total to 5,823 cases, including 145 deaths.
Image: A picture shows the deserted Piazza Duomo in Milan, on March 5, 2020.
The Italian government has introduced tough new measures to try to stop the spread of coronavirus, which include telling people not to enter or leave the hardest-hit region of Lombardy.
It follows its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the outbreak broke out in the north of the country on 21 February.
In its daily update, Italy’s civil protection agency said the number of people with the coronavirus rose by 1,247 in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 5,883.
Another 36 people also died as a result of the virus, taking the total to 233.
In China a hotel being used to house people in coronavirus quarantine collapsed killing at least four people and trapping dozens more.
So far, at least 47 people have been rescued from the building in the city of Quanzhou, in southeastern Fujian Province.
China reported 99 new cases on Saturday, its first daily increase of less than 100 since January, and 28 new fatalities.
South Korea, the hardest-hit country outside China, reported 448 new cases, taking the total to 7,041, with 48 deaths overall.
As Argentina announced the first death from the disease in Latin America – a 64-year-old patient from Buenos Aires – Western countries looked to imitate Chinese containment measures by imposing travel controls and shutting down public events.
Spain deployed police to enforce a quarantine. Austria confiscated 21,000 disposable masks that a Turkish company smuggled aboard a tour bus, seeking to profit from soaring demand.
Turkish police, meanwhile, threatened legal action against social media accounts accused spreading false virus information.
While the global death toll has risen past 3,400, Saturday saw more people recovering from the virus than were sickened by it.
Currently, nearly 90,000 cases have been reported in Asia; more than 8,000 in Europe; some 6,000 in the Middle East; about 400 in North America; about 50 in Latin America and the Caribbean; and fewer than 50 cases so far in Africa.
While many scientists say the world is clearly in the grip of a pandemic – a serious global outbreak – the World Health Organisation (WHO) is not calling it that yet, amid concerns the word might cause more alarm.
The virus is still much less widespread than annual flu epidemics, which cause up to five million severe cases around the world and up to 650,000 deaths annually, according to the WHO.
How coronavirus has spread
In other developments:
The Vatican says Pope Francis will not give his Sunday address from a window overlooking St Peter’s Square and it will instead be streamed online from inside the Vatican
A former passenger (non-Japanese male) of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who tested positive for coronavirus has died, says Japanese public broadcaster NHK, taking the ship’s death toll to seven
The leader of Italy’s co-ruling Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti, tests positive for COVID-19
The lender Intesa Sanpaolo says it is ready to donate up to €100m to Italy to tackle the outbreak and grant up to €5bn in loans to affected firms
15 Americans are quarantined in a Bethlehem hotel over coronavirus fears
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Source : Sky News