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Singapore 'cruise to nowhere' returns to port following positive COVID-19 test

Virus Outbreak Singapore Cruise
Posted at 9:47 AM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 12:47:07-05

SINGAPORE (AP) — A Royal Caribbean “cruise to nowhere” has been cut short and the ship has returned to Singapore after an elderly passenger was diagnosed with the coronavirus, but the health ministry later said new tests on the man were negative.

Meanwhile, passengers onboard are not able to disembark from the ship until full contact tracing measures are carried out and everyone is tested for coronavirus. The ship had 1,680 passengers and 1,148 crew members onboard.

Royal Caribbean and Singapore’s Tourism Board said the 83-year-old passenger tested positive for COVID-19 after reporting to the ship’s medical center with diarrhea and was immediately isolated.

But Singapore’s health ministry said later that it retested the man and found him negative.

It says it will conduct another test Thursday to confirm his status.

"We worked closely with the government to develop a thorough system that tests and monitors all guests and crew and follows public health best practices," a Royal Caribbean representative told CNN. "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."

Singapore recently began a “safe cruising” program allowing cruise ships to make round trips from Singapore with no ports of call.

The Quantum of the Seas ship was hosting a three-night, four-day cruise around Singapore, a so-called "cruise to nowhere."

All passengers had to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding and wear masks at all times outside their rooms. The ship was regularly cycling in fresh air and was operating at 50% capacity.