An elderly passenger on board a Royal Caribbean “cruise to nowhere” has been diagnosed with coronavirus, prompting the voyage to be cut short as the vessel returned to Singapore.
The 83-year-old man on board the Quantum of the Seas tested positive for Covid-19 after reporting to the ship’s medical centre with diarrhoea, said Annie Chang, director of cruise at Singapore’s Tourism Board.
He had tested negative before boarding, she said.
“The passenger was immediately isolated and his initial close contacts were identified and isolated,” she said in a statement, adding that the close contacts have since tested negative.
Singapore recently began a “safe cruising” pilot programme 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 Caribbean is one of two operators licensed to run such trips.
Ms Chang said all leisure activities on board the Quantum of the Seas had ceased immediately and passengers and crew were asked to stay in their cabins until contact tracing is completed.
She added that all those on board would undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing before leaving the terminal.
“They are being given regular updates and meals are provided directly to their rooms,” she said. “The wellbeing and safety of our local community, as well as passengers and crew remain a top priority.”
The Singapore Straits Times reported that the vessel, which is carrying 1,680 guests and 1,148 crew members, returned on the third day of a four-day trip.
Royal Caribbean said in a statement that 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.