At least 18 Americans who've come down with the coronavirus are linked to an Egyptian cruise ship quarantined in the Nile River

Mohamed Abd El Ghany/ReutersNile cruise ships and feluccas docked on the River Nile bank following an outbreak of coronavirus in Luxor, Egypt, March 9, 2020.

At least 18 Americans have tested positive for the new coronavirus after returning from a cruise on the Nile River.

The cruise ship, called the MS A’Sara, is currently sitting in quarantine on the river as passengers and crew wait for test results.

On the ship’s voyage to the city of Luxor, home to tourist attractions like the ancient city of Thebes, 12 workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Some of the worst thoughts go through your head,” Javier Parodi, a tourist from Miami on the ship with his cousin and mother, who are both over 60 and have underlying health conditions, told the Associated Press. “Those crew members were the ones serving our food and cleaning our sheets.”

The Egyptian government said those workers weren’t showing any coronavirus symptoms. But a chef on the ship, Amonios Salah,told the AP that some crew members had shown symptoms such as fevers.

Since then, a total of 45 people on board have tested positive, according to the US Embassy in Egypt.

“It’s still unclear how many people came in contact with the group in the infected ship,” a senior police officer in Luxor told the AP.

At least 18 US cases are connected to the MS A’Sara

Public health officials have tied at least 18 coronavirus cases in the US to the ship. At least 12 people in the Houston area of Texas who had recently been on the MS A’Sara have tested positive for the virus, according to the Houston Chronicle. Another six cases in Maryland are connected to the ship, the governor’s office said on Tuesday.

The New York Times reported that a couple in California had also tested positive after a cruise on the MS A’Sara.

A number of other cases in the US are linked to unspecified Egyptian cruises. Among 21 Iowans who took an Egyptian cruise in late February, 12 have contracted the coronavirus, the Des Moines Register said. Another two infected people in Florida had recently travelled on a Nile River cruise, as did a coronavirus-positive couple in Virginia, according to state health officials.

On the MS A’Sara, passengers were told to stay in their rooms, and the crew set up a makeshift medical centre in the ship’s library, The Washington Post reported. At least 26 people currently on board are Americans.

“They did, in my opinion, mess up at first,” Parodi told the Post. “But they have done everything they can, as far as I know, to address our concerns and to make us feel as comfortable as possible.”

Some experts and Egyptian citizens are concerned that the country isn’t sufficiently screening and reporting new cases of the coronavirus.

The cases raise worries of ‘silent transmission’ in Egypt

“The feedback I get from my patients shows that there is a state of fear and scepticism among the public when it comes to fully trusting official statements regarding the coronavirus in Egypt,” Mohamed Ashraf, an orthopaedic specialist, told The Washington Post. “Some of the patients I have seen suspect that the cases are much more than those the government has announced.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also acknowledged the possibility of unreported spread in Egypt.

“Concern continues around silent transmission occurring in Egypt due to reports of cases in other regions with history of travel to Egypt,” a March 5 WHO report said.

Egypt reported a total of 59 cases in the country as of Tuesday.

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