SINGAPORE — A passenger on board a Royal Carribbean “cruise to nowhere” has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, prompting the vessel to return early to Singapore on Wednesday.
Royal Carribbean said in a statement that a guest on the Quantum of the Seas ship “tested positive for coronavirus after checking in with our medical team.”
“We identified and isolated all guests and crew who had close contact with this guest, and each of those individuals have subsequently tested negative for the virus,” it said.
The ship returned to port in accordance with government protocols, and will allow guests to leave after a review of contact tracing is completed, it said.
Singapore recently began a “safe cruising” pilot program allowing cruise ships to make round trips to Singapore with no port of call in between. Strict safety measures were imposed, including reducing capacity by half and pre-boarding testing for passengers. Royal Carribbean is one of two operators licensed to run such trips.
The Singapore Straits Times reported that the patient on the Quantum of the Seas was an 83-year-old Singaporean. It said the vessel, which has 1,680 guests and 1,148 crew members on board, returned on the third day of a four-day trip.
Annie Chang, director of cruise at the Singapore Tourism Board, was quoted by the Straits Times as saying that the passenger had tested negative for COVID-19 before boarding. When he reported to the online medical team with diarrhea, he was tested again and found to be positive, she said.
All leisure activities ceased immediately, passengers were asked to stay in their cabins and emergency response plans were activated including immediate isolation of close contacts, contact tracing and deep cleaning of the ship, she added.
Calls and emails to the Singapore Tourism Board went unanswered.
Royal Carribbean said it had worked with the Singapore government to develop a thorough testing and monitoring system.
“That we were able to quickly identify this single case and take immediate action is a sign that the system is working as it was designed to do,” it added.
Singapore, a small but wealthy city-state in Southeast Asia, has reported 58,285 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began with 29 deaths.
The Associated Press