At least 75 people have been infected in a suspected Norovirus outbreak on a German-based cruise operator berthed in Scotland. GPs are treating those on board the ship, Marco Polo, which is berthed in Invergordon, Easter Ross, and is carrying 769 passengers and 340 crew.
It was initially feared the outbreak had caused the death of a 74 year-old man from Norfolk but health authorities confirmed he had suffered a fatal heart attack as a result of underlying health problems and was not among those suspect of contracting the virus.NHS Highland said a total of 150 people were suffering from sickness and abdominal cramps - symptoms of the virus which is also known as the winter vomiting bug and affects up to one million people in the UK every year.
Transocean Tours of Bremen confirmed that 200 passengers aboard Marco Polo currently have symptoms of suspected norovirus.
Three people remain in Raigmore Hospital after falling ill on board the ship. One person has been discharged, and one further patient has been admitted. In total there are still four people in hospital.
Invergordon councillor Maxine Smith criticised the way the situation had been handled, claiming that potentially infected passengers were allowed to wander through the town after the ship docked there.
She said: “There doesn’t seem to have been any protocols in place. We have shopkeepers, businesses and people who are worried that they have come into contact with someone who potentially has the virus.”
She added that there were reports of some passengers vomiting in the streets.
Transocean Tours said the ship had not been placed under quarantine and that passengers unaffected by the virus were only allowed ashore after local health authorities had given their approval.
The company said the ship had remained in Invergordon to allow additional manpower to join the ship to assist with the situation, adding that the decision had been made by the ship’s owners, Story Cruise Ltd.
Despite the outbreak, the cruise company confirmed that the vessel was scheduled to sail from Invergordon this afternoon to continue her voyage.