Royal Caribbean 'cruise-to-nowhere' cut short after passenger tests positive for COVID-19

Royal Caribbean 'cruise-to-nowhere' cut short after passenger tests positive for COVID-19
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A Royal Caribbean “cruise-to-nowhere” from Singapore was cut short Wednesday after its nearly 1,700 passengers were ordered to stay in their cabins for more than 16 hours following a positive coronavirus test on the ship.

According to Reuters, the Quantum of the Seas initially left port for a four-day cruise Monday after all passengers cleared a mandatory polymerase chain reaction test for the virus up to three days prior.

An 83-year-old man onboard eventually reported to the ship’s medical center with diarrhea, and a subsequent COVID-19 test revealed the coronavirus infection, Reuters reported.

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The man was taken to hospital Wednesday after the ship returned to port.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said two additional tests from the patient came back negative, and another is planned for Thursday.

Authorities told Reuters that all other passengers were confined to their rooms Wednesday in order to carry out contact tracing. Officials said close contacts of the patient among the 1,680 guests and 1,148 crew members on board had tested negative so far.

Reuters reported all passengers are being required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing before leaving the ship.

Singapore, which has reported more than 58,000 COVID-19 cases and 29 related deaths, has recorded very few local cases in recent weeks. On Wednesday, the country had no new locally transmitted infections.

The cruise was only open to Singapore residents, and marks one of the first by Royal Caribbean since it halted global operations in March amid the pandemic.

In September, the Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group that represents 95 percent of global ocean-going cruise capacity, said it planned to test all passengers and crew for the coronavirus before boarding ships in preparation to resume sailing in the U.S. 

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian’s Healthy Sail Panel submitted a 66-page report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the time with dozens of recommendations on how to prevent or mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on ships. The report included testing passengers and crew members, as well as daily temperature checks and face mask requirements.

The CDC in late October said it would lift its "no sail" order allowing "simulation" cruises to sail in U.S. waters beginning Sunday, but it did not say when passengers can return to cruise lines.