At least 36 crew members and 5 passengers aboard a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus.
What We Know:
- Hundreds of passengers and crew members who were on board the MS Roald Amundsen are now quarantining and awaiting test results. The ship docked in Tromso, Norway on Friday and was operated by the cruise line Hurtigruten, which has suspended all operations amid the outbreak. Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam commented: “A preliminary evaluation shows that there has been a failure in several of our internal procedures . . . We take full responsibility.”
- The ship’s intended journey was to sail to Svalbard, an archipelago just north of Norway, scheduled for Friday afternoon. The trip was cancelled after four crew members fell ill and tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. The symptomatic members are hospitalized in Tromso while the asymptomatic members are still on the ship. The MS Roald Amundsen had two previous journeys on July 17 and July 24 with hundreds of guests, all of whom have been contacted and told to self-isolate. A total of five passengers from both expeditions have tested positive so far.
- Hurtigruten said that its non-Norwegian crew were quarantined before boarding the ship and its non-European crew were tested for the virus before leaving their home countries, however, they were not required to quarantine. After Friday’s trip was cancelled, Hurtigruten allowed almost 180 passengers to disembark, leaving Norwegian authorities to contact trace and locate everyone who had been on board. One health official expects “more infections will be found in connection to this outbreak.”
Hurtigruten was one of the first cruise lines to resume operations amid the pandemic in June. The European Maritime Safety Agency released new guidelines on July 27 recommending physical distancing, face coverings, and enhanced cleaning.