French cruise ship passengers file manslaughter complaint over Covid-19 outbreak on board

Around 850 French passengers who were onboard a coronavirus-riddled cruise ship that was turned away from numerous ports in March have filed a collective suit in Paris with 180 complaints, including manslaughter, against Costa Cruises, their lawyer said on Sunday.

French cruise ship passengers file manslaughter complaint over Covid-19 outbreak on board
The Costa Magica cruise ship was refused entry into numerous ports after a Covid-19 outbreak. Photo: AFP

The class action, which includes complaints from the families of three passengers who died of Covid-19, accuses the Italy-based cruise giant of negligence and various faults during their trip on the Costa Magica.

From March 6th to 13th the ship was refused entry to dock in most of the Caribbean islands it visited, including Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Barbados and Saint Lucia.

In the absence of stopovers, the crew encouraged the passengers to use the ship's shops, spas, restaurants and casino without sufficiently putting health measures in place – or informing them there were suspected infections onboard – the complainants said in their suit.

The staff members on the ship “were at fault, the passengers had almost no information and only found out from local media that there were cases on the ship,” Lawyer Philippe Courtois, who represents the collective of some 850 French passengers, told AFP.

Courtois also criticised the “extremely light” virus measures on the ship.

“It was meant to be a dream cruise, but it ended in an ordeal,” he said.

Costa Cruises, which is part of the Carnival group, has suspended its trips worldwide until August 15th due to the pandemic.

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French PM says Covid tests for travellers from China ‘will continue’

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday that Covid-19 tests for travellers arriving from China would continue despite protests from Beijing.

French PM says Covid tests for travellers from China 'will continue'

“I think we’re performing our duty in asking for tests,” Borne told franceinfo radio when asked about China’s reaction, before adding: “We will continue to do it.”

“We’re doing it while respecting the rules of the World Health Organisation and we will continue to do it,” she added.

Since Sunday, travellers from China arriving in France must wear a mask and be prepared to submit to a test on arrival, which are being done at random.

From Thursday, all travellers will be required to present a negative PCR or antigen test undertaken less than 48 hours before their flight.

French authorities have described the testing regime as a means of tracking variants that might be spreading in China since the country lifted its strict Covid-19 restrictions.

“Our objective — and all the scientists agree on this point — is to follow the evolution of the virus and that’s what we’ve been doing since Sunday,” Borne said.

European nations are seeking to coordinate their responses, with France, Italy and Britain testing arrivals while other states such as Germany have no restrictions.