An 83-year-old passenger who initially tested positive for the coronavirus on a “cruise to nowhere” from Singapore this week, forcing thousands of passengers and crew members to return to port a day early, did not have the virus after all, officials said on Thursday.
The passenger, who had diarrhea aboard the ship Quantum of the Seas and had taken a mandatory Covid-19 test, has since tested negative several times, Singapore’s Ministry of Health said in a statement.
“The sample taken from the individual this morning came back negative for the virus,” officials said on Thursday. It was the third negative test after two on Wednesday also came back negative.
Quarantine orders for the man’s close contacts and other passengers aboard the ship were then rescinded, the ministry said.
Singapore’s Tourism Board said that contact tracing began immediately after the man’s positive test and that all leisure activities on board were canceled. The ship’s captain had also ordered guests to remain in their cabins during the investigation.
Quantum of the Seas, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, returned to the Marina Bay Cruise Center in Singapore at 8 a.m. Wednesday. All remaining passengers and crew members were required to undergo mandatory testing upon disembarking, the tourism board said.
The board also asked that passengers monitor their health for 14 days and to undergo a swab test at a designated government center at the end of the monitoring period.
When the cruise left the city-state on Monday, all 1,680 passengers and 1,148 crew members had tested negative for Covid-19, according to the tourism board.
The incident underscores the uncertainties the global tourism industry, battered by the pandemic, faces as it struggles to restart. The cruise ship is one of two to operate out of Singapore this month while putting in place a long list of safety precautions to reassure passengers.
A New York Times reporter recently took a trip on the other one, the World Dream.
In February, the coronavirus infected more than 200 people board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, trapping its 3,600 passengers and crew. Governments later banned cruises, crews were sent home, and passengers canceled their bookings. But countries like Singapore, Japan and several in Europe have since allowed cruises to restart under the watchful eye of officials.
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