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COVID case on Singapore cruise

Nearly 1700 passengers on a Royal Caribbean ‘cruise-to-nowhere’ from Singapore have been told to stay in their cabins after a COVID-19 case was detected on board, forcing the ship back to port, authorities say.

All passengers on the Quantum of the Seas had cleared a mandatory polymerase chain reaction test for COVID-19 up to three days before the cruise started on Monday, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said.

The infected passenger, an 83-year-old male, had reported to the onboard medical centre with diarrhoea, and others on board were told of the infection early on Wednesday.

Royal Caribbean and the STB said all guests and crew of the ship who had close contact with the infected guest had subsequently tested negative for the virus.

The passengers and crew will stay onboard in their rooms until contact tracing is complete, Annie Chang, director of the cruise segment at the STB said. They will all undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing before leaving the terminal.

In the meantime, they are being given regular updates and meals are provided directly to their rooms.

Passenger Melvin Chew told Reuters he was awoken by an announcement on the ship’s tannoy just before 3am on Wednesday which said a guest had tested positive and all passengers must remain in their rooms.

“I was like: ‘there it goes, the worst fear has happened’,” said Chew, a 31-year-old business development manager, who had taken the cruise with a friend.

The Quantum of the Seas returned to Singapore at 8am local time on Wednesday.

The ‘cruise-to-nowhere’ by Royal Caribbean is one of its first sailings since the company halted global operations in March due to the coronavirus. There were 1680 guests and 1148 crew members on board, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said.

Royal Caribbean’s ‘cruise-to-nowhere’ is open only to Singapore residents, makes no stops and sails just off the city-state.

It was not immediately clear when passengers would be allowed to disembark.

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