Cruise ship passengers arriving in Sydney to be screened for coronavirus

Passengers arriving into Sydney on cruise ships will be assessed by health experts for coronavirus to prevent the spread of the disease.

NSW Health on Sunday said a risk assessment will be completed before each ship's arrival into the harbour city and then a decision will be made on whether to disembark passengers from the ship.

The health authority insists it is a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Passengers arriving in Sydney on a cruise ship from New Zealand on Sunday will be assessed as a "safeguard," the health authority said in a statement.

"No outbreak of COVID-19 has been identified by doctors on board the vessel that set sail from Auckland and travelled around New Zealand to Australia however, as a safeguard, any unwell passengers will be assessed by health teams here," NSW Health said.

Passengers queue at Sydney Harbour while a ship is checked by medical personnel on Friday. Source: Getty Images

The testing process will be similar to the assessments being done for passengers arriving at Sydney airport.

NSW Health said thousands of passengers, including the elderly, are often on cruise ships and can require medical management for unrelated infectious diseases while on board, or when they disembark. 

It comes after one person onboard the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship was tested and cleared of the virus during a precautionary assessment on Friday.

The ship, which arrived in Sydney on Friday and was scheduled to depart on Saturday for a 14-day cruise of Australia and New Zealand, was never locked down.

The ship's owner slammed "false and inflammatory" media reports which suggested someone on board could have contracted the disease.

A passenger on the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship was cleared of coronavirus. Source: Getty Images

First coronavirus death outside of Asia

France on Saturday reported the first death outside Asia of a person infected with the new virus, with the death of an 80-year-old Chinese tourist who two French hospitals initially turned away. France also reported a new confirmed case that brought the country’s total to 12.

Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said she learned Friday night about the death of the patient, a man who tested positive for the virus in late January and had been isolated in intensive care at a Paris hospital.

The patient, who was from the province in central China that’s been hardest-hit by the virus, had a serious lung infection. All the previous deaths outside mainland China, were in Asia: one each in Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong.

France has reported a death from coronavirus after an 80-year-old man died. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

The Health Ministry announced Saturday night that France’s latest case was a British person who, like five other infected Britons, had stayed in an Alpine chalet with a businessman from England who had attended a conference in Singapore. The ministry said the new patient been tested daily while in isolation at a Lyon hospital before testing positive Saturday.

There were contradicting reports about the timing of when the Chinese tourist who died in France became ill and started to receive treatment. Ms Buzyn said he arrived in France on January 16 and was hospitalised on January 25 under strict isolation measures but his condition deteriorated rapidly.

Other French medical officials had said previously that the patient arrived in France on January 23 and quickly fell ill.

A China Southern Airlines flight passenger arrives at Perth International Airport. Source: Getty Images

with AAP and The Associated Press

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