Around 3,600 people were being held on a cruise ship at the Kai Tak terminal on Wednesday over a Wuhan virus scare, as Hong Kong health authorities announced they were searching for others who had been on a previous cruise on the vessel – alongside three mainlanders diagnosed as having the virus.
Genting Cruise Lines says it was notified by mainland authorities that three passengers who had been on board the World Dream between January 19 and 24 were later confirmed to have the deadly new coronavirus.
Some 4,600 people were on that voyage with the three infected mainlanders, and authorities say 200 of them were from Hong Kong and the search is now on for them.
The World Dream set off on another cruise to the mainland and Vietnam with new passengers on February 2. It returned to Hong Kong on Wednesday morning, after being refused permission by Taiwanese authorities to dock in Kaohsiung.
Officials from the Centre for Health Protection boarded the ship at Kai Tak on Wednesday morning to carry out checks on the 1,800 passengers and around 1,800 crew members now on board.
Around 90 percent of the passengers currently on the boat are from Hong Kong and the rest are all foreigners, with nobody from the mainland, said the Department of Health's chief port officer, Leung Yiu-hong.
It wasn't clear whether mainlanders had been on the cruise but had disembarked elsewhere.
Three members of crew reported having had a fever and were being sent to public hospitals to be placed in isolation as a precaution. More than two dozen other members of staff reported various symptoms of illness such as coughing, Leung said.
The others on board were having their temperatures checked and were filling out health declaration forms, but were not being allowed off the ship at this point.
Leung said that he couldn’t tell how long the screening process would take.
"We'd like to see the result of our quarantine measures and the epidemiological investigation to see whether we need more stringent measures. So for the time being, we cannot conclude the likely time for finishing the quarantine measures," he said.
The official added that the cruise company had been asked to provide details about the 200 Hong Kong people who had been on the earlier voyage, in a bid to track them down.
RTHK spoke by telephone to one of the passengers tapped on the ship, a woman surnamed Leung, who said the health officials were screening the crew members on board first.
She said everyone on the ship was wearing a face mask. She added that she was not worried about getting sick and was psychologically prepared to have to go into quarantine.
The cruise company said it had isolated the staff members it believed came into contact with the three infected passengers and had sealed the rooms the passengers had stayed in.
Last updated: 2020-02-05 HKT 14:06
Thousands held on ship at Kai Tak over virus scare
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