The specter of coronavirus clusters forming inside cruise ships returned on Wednesday when Singapore said a passenger on board a Royal Caribbean vessel tested positive for COVID-19..

The coronavirus infection was detected on board the Quantum of the Seas ship. Singapore authorities said the ship will return to the shore immediately and all passengers will be disembarked as per Covid-19 protocols.

Cruise to Nowhere

The Singapore Tourism Board had given the go ahead to Genting and Royal Caribbean to start an experimental package dubbed as 'cruise to nowhere' in October. As per the plan, the first cruise was flagged off early December, with the liners allowed to board travelers up to 50 percent capacity. The trip does not have port calls and the vessels merely sails around waters just off Singapore, as part of a pilot run before the start of actual cruise later on.

Diamond Princess
Diamond Princess Wikimedia Commons

In the early phase of the coronavirus epidemic, passengers stranded inside cruise ships was a worrisome spectacle. Cruise liners were ordered to station off the shores of Italy and Japan even as hundreds of passengers tested positive for coronavirus. Deaths and serious illness stalked stranded passengers in their thousands at a time when the world did not have a plan to deal with the crisis.

The passenger is identified as an 83-year-old person who has reported symptoms like diarrhoea. Upon further checks he was diagnosed with Covid-19. However, the passenger had undergone mandatory PCR test before boarding and had tested negative for coronavirus.

"All on-board leisure activities also ceased immediately and passengers were asked to stay in their cabins ... The remaining passengers and crew will remain on board in their rooms until contact tracing is complete. They will all undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing before leaving the terminal, as per the regular post-arrival protocols," STB said.

Epidemic in Singapore

The coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 67 million people globally and killed 1.5 million, has hit the global tourism industry hard. Singapore, which was better off than many other countries in the world in terms of the number of infections and deaths, plans to kick new life into its tourism industry by starting cruises in a phased manner. However, the latest development has dealt a setback for Singapore.