Singapore ‘cruise-to-nowhere’ turns back after COVID-19 case aboard

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Intl desk, Dec 09: A passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean ‘cruise-to-nowhere’ from Singapore has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing all guests to be quarantined in their cabins and the Quantum of the Seas ship to return to dock on Wednesday.

Singapore has been piloting the trips, which are open only to residents, make no stops and sail in waters just off the city-state. There were around 2,000 passengers aboard at the time who have all been confined to their rooms, Reuters reported.

The global cruise industry has taken a major hit from the coronavirus pandemic, with some of the earliest big outbreaks found on cruise ships. In one case in February off the coast of Japan, passengers were stuck for weeks aboard the Diamond Princess with over 700 guests and crew infected.

“A guest was feeling unwell and tested positive for COVID-19…We are asking all guests to remain in their state rooms to prevent the spread of illness,” the captain of the Quantum of the Seas told passengers over the tannoy in a video shared on social media.

“We kindly ask all guests with urgent medical or health situations like diabetes, heart disease etc to contact guest services,” he said, adding that the ship had returned to Singapore a day before the end of its planned four-day sailing.

Confirming the positive test, Royal Caribbean said in a statement that all guests and crew who had close contact with the infected guest have subsequently tested negative for the virus.

Royal Caribbean’s ‘cruises-to-nowhere’ from Singapore began last week, marking the firm’s first sailing since it halted its global operations in March due to the pandemic.

Part of the precautions for the resumption of cruises in Singapore involves pre-departure testing and for guests to carry an electronic contact tracing device and to social distance at all times.

It was not immediately clear when the guests of the ship could disembark, the captain said in his message to guests.