Oslo: Close to 50 people including passengers and crew on a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for COVID-19. ‘BBC News’ quoting health officials said that the exact number of passengers who have contracted the disease is 41. The numbers may rise drastically as there are hundreds of passengers who were on the cruise ship ‘MS Roald Amundsen’ are currently in quarantine. Their swab samples have been collected and they are waiting for the results, a spokesperson of the company which owns the ship said Monday.
The cruise ship belongs to the Norwegian firm ‘Hurtigruten’. The ship is currently anchored at the port of Tromso in northern Norway. The ship has been at the port since Friday. ‘Hurtigruten’ has halted all other cruises because of the outbreak of COVID-19 aboard MS Roald Amundsen.
“This is a serious situation for everyone involved. We have not been good enough and we have made mistakes for which the outbreak has occurred,” a top official of the company, Daniel Skjeldamsaid in a statement Monday. “A preliminary evaluation shows a breakdown in several of our internal procedures. The only responsible choice is to suspend all expedition sailings,” Skjeldamsaid added.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak aboard the cruise ship, the Norwegian government has announced it will stop all cruise ships with more than 100 people on board from disembarking passengers for at least 14 days.
In a separate development, police have said they were investigating whether any norms had been violated prior to the outbreak on the Roald Amundsen. “We have found grounds to open a case,” a police official has been quoted as saying by ‘Reuters’ news agency.
The MS Roald Amundsen had been on a week-long voyage to Svalbard in the Arctic. It was scheduled to dock in ports of England and Scotland in September. However, when the ship reached the port of Tromso, four crew members were admitted to hospital Friday with coronavirus symptoms. They later tested positive for the virus.
Another 32 crew members on board were found to be infected. The staff who tested positive included German, French and Filipino citizens. They were tested for the virus before they left their home countries. However, they did not undergo quarantine before boarding the ship, ‘Hurtigruten’ said.
Almost 180 passengers left the ship Friday, leaving the authorities scrambling over the weekend to locate and test those who had been on board.
All the passengers have now been contacted and told to self-isolate for 10 days, health officials said. Five passengers have so far tested positive out of 387 who had travelled on the ship since 17 July. “We expect that more infections will be found in connection to this outbreak,” said Line Vold, a health official.