East Anglian victim on cruise ship

AN East Anglian pensioner has died after suffering a heart attack on board a cruise ship which is also believed to have been hit by the vomiting bug norovirus.

AN East Anglian pensioner has died after suffering a heart attack on board a cruise ship which is also believed to have been hit by the vomiting bug norovirus.

Health officials said the 74-year-old Norwich man, who has not been named, had serious underlying health problems and a post-mortem examination would be needed to establish the exact cause of his death and whether the bug had played any part.

Police confirmed the man, who had been on holiday with his wife, was reported dead shortly after 9.30am yesterday.

According to NHS Highland, 150 people on board the Marco Polo, which had berthed in Invergordon, Easter Ross in the Scottish Highlands, had become unwell with suspected norovirus.

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The ship's operator Transocean Tours said its medical team on board the ship was dealing with an unconfirmed virus which caused a form of gastroenteritis but said the man's death was unrelated to the bug.

A company spokesman said: “In an unrelated incident, a 74-year-old male passenger, with chronic heart and breathing problems, suffered a fatal heart attack on board ship and paramedics were unable to resuscitate him.”

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Those taken unwell on the ship were being treated by a team of GPs and local nurses while two people were taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness last night for treatment.

There are 769 passengers and 340 crew on board and those not showing symptoms were allowed to go ashore to sightsee on Monday.

The ship has not been detained or placed under quarantine but has remained in Invergordon to allow extra manpower to join the ship, Transocean Tours said.

But there were conflicting reports over the number of passengers taken ill, with the health board saying 150 people were ill and the operator stating 54 passengers and 21 crew members were unwell.

Dr Ken Oates, interim director of public health at NHS Highland, said: “NHS Highland can confirm that around a 150 people on board a cruise ship docked at Invergordon have become unwell with suspected norovirus. NHS Highland is reassuring people that there is no risk to the health of the local community.”

The Marco Polo set off from Tilbury on a cruise around Britain on Saturday and was scheduled to sail from Invergordon today to continue the voyage.

The Transocean Tours spokesman said port health officials inspected the ship yesterday and allowed passengers who were not unwell to go ashore.

He said: “The management of Transocean Tours, working closely with the ship owners, Story Cruise Ltd, has taken full responsibility for the co-ordination of the standard Health Protection Agency protocols that are implemented in such circumstances to minimise the effect of the virus and eradicate it.'”

The norovirus is dubbed the “winter vomiting disease” but it can occur at any time of the year.

It spreads very easily from person to person and can survive for several days in a contaminated area.

It can also spread through contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with the virus, or by eating contaminated food or water.

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