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Vietnam turns away cruise ship over coronavirus fears - state media

HANOI, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Vietnam has turned away a German-owned cruise ship with more than 1,000 passengers on board over fears of coronavirus infections on board, state media reported on Friday.

Authorities in Quang Ninh province, home to the UNESCO world heritage site Ha Long Bay, decided on Tuesday not to allow passengers of the ship AIDAvita to disembark on Thursday, the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

"The vessel has docked in the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, which have all reported coronavirus cases," VNA said.

"Not allowing AIDIvita's passengers to disembark is just a temporary solution to prevent the intrusion of diseases," VNA cited a local official as saying.

Germany's AIDA Cruises, the owner of the AIDAvita, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. AIDA Cruises is a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp.

The cruise liner left the Philippines port of Coron on Feb. 10 bound for Vietnam via the South China Sea, according to data published by the Marine Traffic ship tracking website.

It had been scheduled to visit Ha Long Bay, in northern Vietnam, on Saturday, then proceed to the Vietnamese ports of Da Nang, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City from Feb. 16-20, according to CruiseMapper, a website which tracks cruise ships.

As of Friday evening, the AIDAvita was 176 km (109 miles) south of the Thai capital Bangkok, according to Marine Traffic.

Passengers on another Carnival Corp cruise ship, the MS Westerdam, spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by five countries, including Thailand, over coronavirus fears before they began to disembark in Cambodia on Friday.

The coronavirus has killed more than 1,380 people, almost all in China where the outbreak originated, with one each in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan. (Reporting by Khanh Vu and James Pearson)