Covid-19 testing for passengers on a Royal Caribbean cruise in Singapore

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas cruise ship docked at the Marina Bay Cruise Center in Singapore on December 9, 2020.

Rosanna Lockwood | CNBC

SINGAPORE – The Singaporean passenger who tested positive for Covid-19 on board a cruise ship subsequently tested negative for the disease, according to the Singapore Ministry of Health.

The passenger, an 83-year-old man, was aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, which sailed on December 7th for a round trip to the city-state with no port in between. The ship was forced to return on Wednesday, a day ahead of schedule, after the passenger underwent a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on the cruise ship that was positive for Covid-19.

PCR tests have been widely used to detect cases because they are accurate in their diagnosis, but it takes hours for results to return.

“His original sample has since been retested at the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) and is negative for (Covid-19) infection. A second fresh sample tested by NPHL also turned negative,” the Department of Health said Wednesday night .

“NPHL will do another test tomorrow to confirm its (Covid-19) status,” the statement said.

The passenger was taken to the National Center for Infectious Diseases on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. Singapore time, according to the Singapore Tourism Board.

The tourism authority added that all 1,680 passengers and 1,148 crew on board had tested negative for the virus prior to the ship’s departure. Passengers and crew members who came into close contact with the person concerned were isolated while other passengers were subjected to mandatory tests before they were allowed to exit the Marina Bay Cruise Center, where the ship is docked.

In a separate statement, Royal Caribbean said that the entire crew will be subjected to PCR testing on Thursday while the ship is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

A 4-night cruise that was supposed to start on Thursday has been canceled, the cruise operator said.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the world Travel and tourism sectors this year, including the cruise industry.

Singapore’s “Cruise to Nowhere” program is an attempt to increase demand for travel amid the pandemic. To participate, cruise lines must obtain a mandatory safety certification and undergo an audit before they are allowed to sail.

Only two operators, Royal Caribbean and Genting Cruise Lines, sail from Singapore under this program.

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