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Caribbean island nations Saint Lucia and Dominica have denied entry of the cruise ship AIDAperla into their shores as they were carrying a large number of sick passengers on board.

The Department of Health and Wellness of Saint Lucia said that the decision to deny permission on 1 February was taken to protect the health and safety of the citizens.

In a press release, the department said that there were no suspected cases of the coronavirus on the ship.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Wellness of Saint Lucia said: “The health authorities at no time suspected that there were any cases of the novel coronavirus on board the vessel, and therefore, would like to categorically dismiss any false claims that may be in circulated.”

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and New Investment of Dominica also refused to give permission for the cruise ship to enter the port on 2 February.

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The authority said a large number of sick passengers on board the cruise ship could create public health scare. The passengers on board are thought to suffer from upper-respiratory-tract infections.

AIDAperla has 3,000 passengers on board and has a medical centre with nurses and doctors. The ship departed from Barbados on 30 January.

AIDAperla is the second of two new cruise ships built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). It was delivered to AIDA Cruises in April 2017.

The cruise ship will now continue its journey to Guadeloupe.

Many countries are taking necessary precautions to limit the spread of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, in December last year.

The coronavirus outbreak has so far killed 362 and infected 17,386 people in 25 countries, including China.

Last week, approximately 6,000 passengers onboard Carnival Corporation’s Costa Smeralda were allowed to leave the ship after a Chinese passenger tested negative for coronavirus and was quarantined at Italy’s Civitavecchia port.