Jordan denies British cruise ship over norovirus fears
A scientific drawing of the norovirus at a microscopic level. (Shutterstock)
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Aqaba authorities have prevented a cruise ship carrying nearly 2,000 British tourists from entering the southern port city, as some passengers are infected with the norovirus, an official said Tuesday.
Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority Commissioner for Economic Development and Investment Affairs Sharhabeel Madi told The Jordan Times that authorities had been aware that the virus was detected among the tourists since Sunday, when the ship was on its way to the Kingdom, noting that the cruiser was not allowed to enter Jordan’s territorial waters.
“After receiving information from the cruise tour operator and the maritime agent that the ship is carrying several infected tourists, the Jordan Maritime Authority consulted the Health Ministry and decided to ban the ship from entering Jordanian waters to protect citizens from the virus,” Madi said.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, norovirus, also known as winter vomiting disease, causes gastroenteritis and is highly infectious. The virus is easily transmitted through contact with infected individuals from one person to another.
Outbreaks are common in semi-enclosed environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships, and can also spread in restaurants and hotels.
The virus is usually mild and lasts for one to two days. Symptoms include vomiting, projectile vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.
Most people make a full recovery within a couple of days, but it can be dangerous for the very young and the elderly.
Answering a question about cruise ships and tourist numbers, Madi said in a phone interview that over the past two months, around 20 ships carrying 30,000 tourists from several nationalities docked at the Aqaba Port.
Citing travel agency arrangements, the official said cruise ships will keep arriving in Aqaba until June 12, and then they will stop until next October due to the hot summer weather.
Most of the cruise ships used to dock in Israel’s Eilat, but after the new by-laws and regulations, Aqaba has witnessed an increase in tourist numbers, which has a “great impact” on local businesses in the city, some 330km south of Amman, and other tourist attractions in the Kingdom, such as Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea, Madi concluded.
By Ahmed Bani Mustafa