Cruise lines worldwide will deny boarding to passengers and crew who have recently travelled to China, a global industry body said Monday, as fears grow over the deadly new coronavirus.
In a statement, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said its members were taking extra precautions to prevent an outbreak of the virus on board cruise ships, where infections can spread rapidly.
"CLIA Members have suspended crew movements from mainland China and will deny boarding to any individual, whether guest or crew, who has travelled from or through mainland China within the previous 14 days," the body's Hamburg office said.
CLIA represents some of the world's largest and best-known cruise lines, including TUI, AIDA, MSC, Costa, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises.
The cruise companies were also carrying out careful screening of passengers and crew before boarding, and changing itineraries where necessary, CLIA said.
The industry body added that cruise ships were well equipped to deal with health emergencies.
"The cruise industry is one of the most well-equipped and experienced when it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of passengers and crew," the statement said.
All ships are fitted with medical facilities and have medical professionals "available around the clock", it added.
The SARS-like virus that first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last month has infected more than 17,000 people and killed over 360 so far.
It has spread to more than 24 countries, including Australia, Germany and Japan.
In a sign of growing anxiety, more than 6,000 tourists were temporarily confined to their cruise ship at an Italian port last week after two Chinese passengers fell ill.
They later tested negative for the coronavirus.
A ban on recent visitors to China