Singapore — An 83-year-old passenger on board a Royal Caribbean cruise to nowhere tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday (Dec 9), causing the ship to return to Singapore.

The vessel, Quantum Of The Seas, had set off from Singapore on Monday and was to have returned on Thursday morning. All 1,680 passengers and 1,148 crew had cleared a mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test prior to boarding the ship.

In a statement, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said the elderly man underwent the  PCR test as part of onboard protocols. Before boarding the cruise, he had undergone testing and the result was negative.

The STB and Royal Caribbean had earlier said that the passenger was immediately isolated and that all his close contacts had tested negative. All onboard leisure activities also stopped immediately and passengers were asked to stay in their cabins.

Crew members who had close contact with the passenger were also identified, isolated and subsequently tested negative for Covid-19. The STB added that remaining passengers and crew were to remain on board, in their rooms, until contact tracing is completed.

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According to a report, a circular from the Ministry of Health (MOH) to the  passengers said that those identified as contacts of the patient would be placed on quarantine or health surveillance.

It advised all other individuals, as a precaution, to monitor their health for two weeks from disembarkation and to undergo a swab test at the end of that period. The cost of the tests at a government swab site will be borne by MOH.

“During this period, you may continue with your usual activities, including going to work or school,” MOH said in the circular. It added that passengers should isolate themselves and inform the authorities only if they develop symptoms such as a cough, fever or shortness of breath.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing told reporters on Wednesday that the Government was prepared for this and had protocols in place to deal with Covid-19 cases on cruise ships.

“That’s why it’s important for us to have a protocol to make sure that if something like that happens, we are able to contact trace quickly, isolate the cases necessary, and for the rest of the activities to continue,” he said. /TISG