Officials: Virus scare on cruise ship a false alarm

A COVID-19 scare that cut short a “cruise to nowhere” off Singapore was a false alarm, officials said after fresh tests on a passenger came back negative.

The voyages – starting and ending at the city-state with no stops – began last month, marking a resumption of cruises after a months-long hiatus due to the pandemic.

But a liner carrying 1,680 guests and 1,148 crew had to turn back to port on Wednesday, day three of a four-day cruise, after the 83-year-old man tested positive at an on-board clinic.

The man was taken to hospital, while passengers and crew remained stuck in their cabins for hours until contact tracing was completed and they were allowed to disembark in the evening.

But the health ministry said a third and final test on the Quantum of the Seas passenger yesterday confirmed that he had not been infected.

“We have rescinded the quarantine orders of his close contacts, who had earlier been placed in quarantine as a precautionary measure while investigations were ongoing, ” the ministry said.

The Singapore tourism board said the pilot “cruise to nowhere” sailings aimed at reviving the hard-hit tourism sector would continue and praised the swift response to the incident.

The cruises have proved a hit in tiny and affluent Singapore, which has suffered only a mild coronavirus outbreak, after people were unable to go on overseas holidays for months due to travel restrictions. — AFP

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