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NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Feb. 27, 2020: The Caribbean region remains coronavirus free and wants to keep it that way, even as cases globally passed 81,000 yesterday.

With the death toll from the disease passing 2,700, Jamaica and Grand Cayman barred over 6,000 passengers from global cruise operator MSC Cruises  from disembarking on fears of a coronavirus outbreak.

This after the ship’s medical records show “one single case of common seasonal flu” by a crew member, the company said.

Yesterday, the company was negotiating with Mexican authorities on Wednesday to allow one of its vessels to dock in the Caribbean port of Cozumel. However, a port official told Reuters that permission for the cruise ship’s passengers to disembark in Cozumel had been revoked.

The company added that the crew member identified with the seasonal flu was isolated for security measures but that no other cases of type A influenza have been discovered on board MSC Meraviglia and no coronavirus infections have been reported on any of its ships.

“The crew member who was diagnosed with common seasonal flu is in a stable condition, receiving anti-viral treatment and medication, and is now free of fever and nearly recovered,” the company said.

Alejandra Aguirre, health secretary of Quintana Roo state, where the Caribbean island of Cozumel is located, said “we have information regarding the patient and fortunately it is not a case of coronavirus.”

More than 30 countries, including in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America now all have since reported cases with major outbreaks in South Korea, Iran and Italy.

The news comes as the Caribbean Tourism Organization, (CTO), on Wednesday said stayover arrivals grew by 4.4 per cent to reach 31.5 million last year, outpacing the international rate of growth of 3.8 per cent reported by the World Tourism Organization, and the highest growth rate in the Americas.

At the same time, cruise visits increased by 3.4 per cent to 30.2 million, representing the seventh consecutive year of growth.  

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