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Sunday May 16th, 2021 10:22AM

Greece: Cruise ship cleared to go after COVID scare

By The Associated Press
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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Health inspectors in Greece said Tuesday that an emergency docking order for a cruise ship near Athens can now be lifted after crew members suspected of having been 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 staff were positive for coronavirus but asymptomatic.

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

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

Officials at the Merchant Marine Ministry said the cruise ship would remain in Piraeus, near the Greek capital, overnight. The ship was expected to continue its journey Wednesday after port authorities had received formal notification of the health inspection.

The vessel, operated by TUI Cruises, has 922 passengers and 666 crew members on board and began its trip late 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 new ones on Tuesday and 5 new deaths. More than half of the new infections were in the greater Athens region, which has become the main hotspot in the country.

Greece has seen over 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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Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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