More than 300 passengers were kept on a ferry overnight in Wirral after six crew members tested positive for coronavirus.
The ship belonging to Stena Line was due to travel from Merseyside to Belfast on Tuesday but was instead held in the port town of Birkenhead.
A total of 322 passengers and 53 staff were onboard at the time.
A spokesman for the ferry operator said: “Stena Line can confirm that six members of the crew of the Stena Edda have tested positive for Covid-19 last night.
“In line with our safety protocols we alerted the Port Health Authorities, who advised us to hold the vessel in Birkenhead as a precaution.”
He added: “The six crew members who tested positive for Covid-19 are being cared for and are doing well, with only mild symptoms.
“Fifteen close contacts have been identified and are self-isolating.
“Stena Line is liaising closely with public health authorities on this matter who have advised us that we should disembark the vessel in Birkenhead.
“The welfare of our passengers and crew is paramount at this time. The passengers are being catered for and we will assist them with alternative travel arrangements.”
It comes as Great Western Railway warned that Christmas trains are likely to be cancelled due to staff testing positive for coronavirus or having to self isolate.
The government’s Christmas transport adviser, Sir Peter Hendy, told the Commons transport committee that customers looking to book trains to and from the west of England will likely be advised to book National Express coach tickets instead.
“We are seeing currently some evidence in particular parts of the country that the operators may not be able to run services that they are committed to, not because they don’t want to but actually because they don’t have enough staff because people have either got Covid or are self-isolating,” he said.
“GWR are not currently anticipating being able to run the service that they thought that they would and in consequence, certainly if not now, by later this morning if you do try to book an advance ticket to the west of England, I’m hoping that their website will tell you to go to National Express because actually they’re not currently wanting to take any more advance bookings.”
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