Greece clears cruise ship to sail on after Covid scare

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Health inspectors in Greece say an emergency docking order for a cruise ship near Athens can be lifted after crew members suspected of being infected with Covid-19 tested negative.

The Maltese-flagged Mein Schiff 6, carrying more than 1,500 people, was rerouted from a Greek island cruise and ordered to sail to the port of Piraeus after sample testing of the crew indicated that 12 ship staff were positive for coronavirus but asymptomatic.

Gkikas Magiorkinis, a member of the government’s pandemic expert committee, said all 12 crew members tested negative on Tuesday, using rapid and confirmatory tests, along with 24 other people they had come into contact with.

The Mein Schiff 6 cruise ship docked at Piraeus (Petros Giannakouris/AP)

“So there is now no concern over this particular cruise ship. We also tested surfaces on the ship and all surfaces tested are negative,” Mr Magiorkinis told reporters.

Officials at the Merchant Marine Ministry said the cruise ship will remain overnight in Piraeus, near the Greek capital.

The ship is expected to continue its journey on Wednesday after port authorities received formal notification of the health inspection.

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The vessel, operated by Tui Cruises, has 922 passengers and 666 crew members on board and began its trip late on Sunday from the port of Iraklio, on the island of Crete.

Passengers had undergone coronavirus tests before boarding.

Greece has seen a rise in confirmed Covid-19 infections in recent weeks, registering 416 on Tuesday and five new deaths. More than half of the new infections were in the greater Athens region, which has become the main hotspot.

The country has seen more than 18,000 infections and 388 confirmed virus-related deaths, but experts say all figures undercount the true toll of the pandemic due to missed cases and limited testing.

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