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Malta stops cruise passengers disembarking over suspected COVID-19 case

VALLETTA, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Malta on Friday stopped passengers disembarking from the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship over a suspected case of COVID-19, Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli said.

Although the cruise ship was let into Valletta harbour, it was not allowed to disembark passengers, Portelli said.

The ship, which is cruising around the central Mediterranean, left port after taking in supplies. There was no immediate comment from MSC Cruises, which operates the vessel.

Cruise ships were home to the some of the earliest clusters of COVID-19 as the pandemic spread globally early this year and the cruise industry has been devastated by the fallout.

Malta started allowing cruise ships back in its harbour in July, on condition that passengers stay in a “bubble”, meaning they had to stay together and not mingle with locals.

Malta on Friday reported 122 new COVID-19 cases, breaking its record of new cases for a third successive day. (Reporting by Chris Scicluna, Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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