12 Coronavirus Cases Identified on Nile River Cruise Vessel

River cruise ships on the Nile at Luxor (file image)

Published Mar 6, 2020 3:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Egyptian health ministry and the World Health Organization reported Friday that officials have identified 12 asymptomatic cases of coronavirus among passengers aboard a cruise ship on the Nile River. 

A former passenger from the vessel, a Taiwanese national with dual U.S. citizenship, was diagnosed with COVID-19 after her return home, prompting tests of those currently on board. 

The itinerary started in Aswan and ended in Luxor, according to Egyptian state media. This is a popular cruise route marketed both domestically and to Western tourists, with multiple operators offering regular sailings. Five- to seven-day itineraries are usually combined with port calls and shore excursions at the Egyptian ruins at Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, Qena and Edfu. The operator of the vessel in question was not identified. 

All of the 12 identified cases were Egyptian nationals. An unspecified number of passengers from the vessel have been quarantined.

The discovery raises the number of known cases in Egypt from three to 15. 

Asymptomatic carriers of the virus have been infected but do not yet show any symptoms, according to WHO. They are being identified through contact-tracing efforts aimed at testing people who have come into contact with known cases. On Friday, WHO epidemiologist Dr. Maria van Kerkhove told a news conference in Geneva that pre-symptomatic individuals are not believed to be a "major driver of transmission" of the disease.