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At least 53 people who recently traveled on a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials said Wednesday.

In response to the outbreak on Hurtigruten's MS Roald Amundsen -- which had undergone two voyages last month -- the company apologized and halted all cruises Monday.

Meanwhile, Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks amid health officials' concerns that the outbreak may have infected people in dozens of towns and villages along the country's western coast.

"The preliminary results now show that there are a total of 53 people with confirmed infection on these two voyages; 37 among the crew and 16 passengers," the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said.

CORONAVIRUS INFECTS 41 PEOPLE ON NORWEGIAN CRUISE SHIP

Norwegian cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen moored in Tromso, Norway, Monday Aug. 3, 2020. (Terje Pedersen/NTB Scanpix via AP)

Before the newly confirmed cases, 41 people – including 5 passengers and 36 crew members – had been admitted to the University Hospital of North Norway after contracting the virus, reports said. The vessel is currently docked in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle.

Hurtigruten had previously reached out to guests who traveled on the MS Roald Amundsen for voyages from July 17-24 and July 25-31, cruising from Bergen in the south to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.

Passengers on the two voyages are required to quarantine for 10 days after leaving the ship, according to health officials in Norway. They must also follow up with the local health services in their home areas.

While the quarantine period for the first voyage has now expired, passengers from the second voyage were said to be from different parts of the country.

Crew members clean onboard Hurtigruten's vessel MS Roald Amundsen docked in Tromso, Norway, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (Associated Press)

"It is important that all municipalities now receiving inquiries from passengers from MS Roald Amundsen and the voyage from July 24-31 prioritize testing, so that we can get an overview at the national level of the consequences of the outbreak, and thus prevent further spread," the institute said.

The 16 infected passengers were registered as living in a total of seven Norwegian counties: Nordland, Oslo, Rogaland, Troms and Finnmark, Trøndelag, Vestland, and Viken.

CRUISE SHIP PASSENGERS FORCED TO REMAIN ON BOAT IN NORWAY AFTER POSITIVE COVID-19 TEST

The cruise liner often acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port along Norway’s west coast. Some passengers disembarked along the route and authorities fear they may have spread the virus to local communities.

"The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is Hurtigruten’s number one priority," said Hurtigruten CEO, Daniel Skjeldam. "We are now focusing all available efforts in taking care of our guests and colleagues. We are working closely with the Norwegian National and Local Health Authorities for follow-up, information, further testing, and infection tracking."

Norwegian news agency NTB reported that 33 of the 36 Hurtigruten crew members who recently tested positive arrived from the Philippines, while others came from Norway, France, and Germany. All 158 crew members have since been tested for the coronavirus, and 122 were said to be negative as of Monday morning.

The cruise ship SeaDream 1 at the quay in Bodoe, Norway, Wednesday Aug. 5, 2020. The cruise ship with 123 passengers on board and a crew of 85 has docked in the Norwegian harbor of Bodoe but no one can disembark after a former passenger from Denmark tested positive for the coronavirus upon returning home. (Associated Press)

Meanwhile, in the Arctic harbor of Bodoe, Norway, the crew and passengers on the cruise ship Seadream 1 all tested negative for the virus. The tests were made “in an abundance of caution,” according to Norway-based company that owns the ship, SeaDream Yacht Club.

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The ship’s passengers were ordered to remain on board amid concerns from authorities after a passenger on a previous trip tested positive for the virus upon returning home.

Fox News' Janine Puhak and the Associated Press contributed to this report

David Aaro is a Reporter at Fox News Digital based in New York City.

News Source: FOX News

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Aid groups call Italys blockade of rescue ship political

MILAN (AP) — The German humanitarian group Sea-Watch on Sunday condemned as politically motivated the blockade of its ship in the Sicilian port of Palermo by Italian authorities after an 11-hour inspection.

Philipp Hahn, head of the Sea-Watch 4 mission, called the justification “flimsy’’ and a ”systematic move to prevent civil sea rescue operations in the central Mediterranean.’’

The main reason cited was that saving lives did not conform to the vessel’s registration. Italian officials also said there were too many life jackets on board while at the same time that the boat’s sewage system was not adequate for the number of people rescued.

It is the fifth rescue ship blocked by Italian authorities in as many months. The Sea-Watch 4 is operated by four humanitarian groups, including Sea-Watch and Doctors Without Borders.

The vessel had rescued 354 people, including 98 unaccompanied minors, families, pregnant women and children. It waited for days to be assigned a safe port, until survivors were transferred to a ferry for quarantine. The Sea-Watch 4 crew also underwent a two-week quarantine off Palermo.

‘’The Sea-Watch 4 is only at sea because of the absence of state-led search and rescue capacity at the world’s deadliest sea border,’’ Doctors Without Borders said. It accused Europe of “disregarding its legal and moral duty to save lives,’’ also citing policies to reinforce the Libyan Coast Guard to block smugglers’ ships from leaving the country, which is not considered a safe haven and where many have reported torture.

So far this year, 379 people trying to reach Europe via lawless Libya have died or gone missing on the perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing, 111 of those in August, the group said.

Meanwhile, the German-flagged ship Alan Kurdi, operated by Sea-Eye, rescued 114 people Saturday in two operations. The Alan Kurdi was the first to be detained in early May after disembarking 150 people.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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