3 Mar 2020

Cruise ship carrying Italian passengers banned from Cooks' Aitutaki

11:58 am on 3 March 2020

A large cruise ship carrying passengers from Italy has been banned from the Cook Islands' atoll of Aitutaki amid fears about the coronavirus.

Aitutaki, Cook Islands.

Aitutaki, Cook Islands. Photo: Ewan Smith

A public meeting was held on the island this weekend, with locals calling for the cruise liner MSC Magnifica to be banned.

When it arrived in Rarotonga, four passengers were taken to the local hospital, but health officials are stressing it is unrelated to Covid-19.

The Cook Islands government has banned all cruise ship visits to the outer islands.

In a statement, the government said the ship - which orginated from Italy - was a low risk, but community concerns were being acknowledged.

The Cook Islands News reports the Ministry of Health earlier confirmed it had received four passengers from the ship, and three were admitted to Rarotonga hospital for further treatment or overnight observation.

A 75-year-old had suffered a cardiac event, a 77-year-old had bacterial pneumonia, and the third admission was a 60-year-old with a skin rash.

There were no patients with suspected coronavirus.