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Coronavirus: Cruisers disembark after negative tests as European cases rise

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By Oscar Valero
Coronavirus: Cruisers disembark after negative tests as European cases rise
Copyright  Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved   -   Kin Cheung

On Thursday, Italian authorities kept more 7.000 people trapped aboard a cruise ship moored in the Italian port of Civitavecchia, close to Rome.

The suspicion that a couple of Chinese tourists were carrying the new coronavirus set off the alarm. But after they tested negative, all passengers and crew were authorised to disembark.

READ MORE: WHO declared global health emergency

Despite these precautions, Italy's national health authorities reported two infected patients.

France, meanwhile, has declared a new case - bringing its total to six - and the US reported its first person-to-person transmission.

On Friday, British health authorities announced two confirmed cases in the UK - the same number as in Italy. They bring the number of European countries affected to five.

Flights suspended

Dozens of airlines have suspended connections with mainland China, among them the European big four: British Airways, Iberia, Air France, and KLM.

France, Portugal and the UK have sent planes to the affected zone in China to evacuate hundreds of European nationals.

Russia closed its 4,600 kilometre land border with China and put a temporary stay on issuing electronic visas to people wanting to enter the country from China. Meanwhile, Kazahstan has suspended bus and train connections with its neighbour.

The mortality rate of the new coronavirus is lower than SARS but it is also more contagious.