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Coronavirus: Cruise ship held in port after passenger comes down with flu-like symptoms

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Thousands of passengers are aboard the cruise ship
Thousands of passengers are aboard the cruise ship   -  
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AP
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Thousands of people are being held aboard an Italian cruise liner amid fears they may have been exposed to coronavirus after a passenger came down with flu-like symptoms.

A couple from the autonomous region of Macao, on the south coast of China, are currently being held in quarantine aboard the vessel, according to Ansa news agency.

The woman is reported to have mild flu-like symptoms while the man is symptomless, but has been isolated as part of precaution.

According to Ansa, initial tests on the couple have returned as negative, but more are being carried out.

The Costa Smeralda ship, which docked in Civitavecchia port on Thursday morning, is carrying around 6,000 passengers and made prior stops in Marseilles, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca.

One man who said he was aboard the cruise wrote on Twitter that he hadn't yet been given official details of what was happening.

In another post, he uploaded a number of pictures that appeared to show passengers waiting in the corridors of the vessel.

Meanwhile, on the ground, local mayor Ernesto Tedesco said everything was "under control".

He added: "From this morning I am in continuous contact with the health and maritime authorities that have immediately activated.

"We are following all the protocols planned and we keep constantly monitored the case, thanks to the excellent work that the director-general of asl Rome 4 is doing."

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Coronavirus in Europe

Finland confirmed its first case of coronavirus in Europe on Wednesday evening, bringing the total number of cases on the continent to five.

It followed four confirmations in France and Germany earlier this week.

European nations are also now working to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan - the epicentre of the outbreak - and other cities across China.

France is said to have repatriated several hundreds of its citizens.

A flight carrying hundreds of British nationals from Wuhan is due to depart early on Friday morning after a one-day delay, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed on Thursday.

Air France announced on Thursday that it was suspending flights to and from mainland China until February 9.

British Airways and Lufthansa also enforced flight suspensions as the virus spread.

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