UK & World News
Norovirus Cruise: Second Ship Is Hit By Bug
A second cruise ship has been struck by a winter vomiting bug after passengers of a luxury liner described their festive trip of a lifetime as "a living nightmare".
P&O has issued a statement saying there are 10 current cases of the highly-contagious norovirus on the Azura, which has been on an 11-night tour of Iberia.
More than 3,000 people are on board and the ship is due to dock at Southampton tomorrow.
It comes after around 300 passengers on the Oriana, dubbed the "plague ship", were laid low by the norovirus.
Yet the company's owners, Carnival, insisted only six people were affected and that the cases were simply "an incidence of a mild gastrointestinal illness" among the 1,800 people on the Baltic cruise.
The Oriana docked in Southampton this morning, and as passengers disembarked they told Sky News' Tom Parmenter how many of those on the holiday suffered vomiting and diarrhoea.
Paul Gilman, who had booked on to the cruise, said: "It has been outrageous from start to finish.
"People were falling like flies, yet the crew were trying to insist everything was fine.
"Everyone is saying, 'this is a plague ship'. It's a living nightmare."
Carol Marlow, managing director of P&O Cruises, told Sky News the Oriana had undergone a "full sanitisation process" before it set sail from Southampton on December 4.
She said the first cases of norovirus, which has an incubation period of between one and two days, were reported to the ship's medical centre within a couple of hours of the vessel leaving port, indicating the virus was brought on board by one of the passengers.
Ms Marlow, who sent a letter of apology to all customers, said: "We don't want one person to be ill on any of our holidays, and we'll learn from this and try to make sure it doesn't happen again."
More than 750,000 people could be affected by the latest outbreak of norovirus in the UK, according to estimates by the Health Protection Agency.
Birmingham City Hospital has told visitors to stay away after it was forced to close three wards due to the infection.
In a statement, the hospital urged people not to go to accident and emergency departments if they have diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms, unless they need emergency medical treatment. Instead, they should telephone their GP or NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
Other hospitals have also taken to Twitter to caution visitors and potential patients.
Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust tweeted: "Please don't visit hospital until at least two days after last symptoms of #vomiting #diarrhoea #norovirus Stay home, rest & take fluids."