Norovirus outbreak hits cruise ship passengers

The Sun Princess docked in Brisbane in February Image copyright ABC
Image caption The Sun Princess docked in Brisbane in February

At least 91 passengers on a cruise ship have been hit by a suspected case of norovirus, Australian authorities say.

The virus, a stomach bug, was detected on the first day of the Sun Princess cruise to the South Pacific, a statement by its parent company said.

Queensland state health authorities confirmed the cases after the ship berthed in Brisbane.

The Sun Princess was affected by two similar cases in February.

In the latest instance, passengers had boarded the ship for a 10-day cruise when they began reporting symptoms, Princess Cruises said.

"We have been advised that on-board testing has found norovirus to be the cause of the illness," a spokesperson for Queensland's Metro North Public Health Unit said.

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Media captionThe norovirus is "very easy to spread rapidly through shared facilities," virologist Dr Derek Gatherer tells Radio 4's World at One

Princess Cruises said it would conduct "deep cleansing" on the ship before it would depart again.

"Proactive and successful steps were taken on board Sun Princess to limit any spread of the illness," a spokesman said.

"The first case was reported on day one of the cruise suggesting the illness was introduced to the ship during embarkation in Brisbane."