Police to probe Hurtigruten coronavirus outbreak

Written by Nick Blenkey
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File photo shows Roald Amundsen on sea trials [Image' Kleven Verft]

The police in Norway’s Troms District are expected to begin an investigation Monday into a coronavirus outbreak on board the Hurtigruten cruise ship Roald Amundsen, according to broadcaster NRK. The ship is currently docked in Tromsø with no passengers on board and the crew quarantined.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) said Saturday that it had notified 69 municipalities throughout Norway to follow up on just under 400 passengers from two cruises on the Roald Amundsen and that passengers who had been on the two cruises in question must be quarantined.

The two cruises were one from July 17-24, and one from July 17-24. NIPH quotes Hurtigruten as stating that the sailings had the same crew, but different passengers.

Reportedly, on July 26 Hurtigruten was informed that a passenger tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling on the July 17-24 cruise. Hurtigruten received advice from FHI to notify the passengers on the second sailing of this, and investigators are thought likely to look into why this notification apparently was not made.

Hurtigruten issued the following statement on Sunday at 3.54 p.m., Norwegian time:

Four crew members were confirmed positive Friday. Extensive testing of the entire crew has concluded that additional 32 crew members are confirmed as COVID-19 positive. 122 of the crew have tested negative.

None of the 154 crew members still on board the ship – including the 32 new confirmed positive tests Saturday – has shown any signs of disease or symptoms of COVID-19.

“We are now focusing all available efforts in taking care of our guests and colleagues. We work closely with the Norwegian national and local health authorities for follow-up, information, further testing, and infection tracking,” says Hurtigruten VP Global Communications Rune Thomas Ege.

The initial four crew members that were infected were isolated several days ago because of other disease symptoms, showing no symptoms of COVID-19. They were routinely tested before being admitted to hospital in Tromsø, Norway Friday morning.

Hurtigruten is in contact with all guests that were on board MS Roald Amundsen’s July 17 and 24 departures.

209 guests from the first voyage and 178 guests from the July 24 departure will self-quarantine in line with Norwegian health authority regulations. Hurtigruten also assists guests with transport, accommodation, food and other needs.

“The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is Hurtigruten’s number one priority. All crew members are closely monitored and screened daily. Non-Norwegian crew members are quarantined before boarding the ship, and non-European crew need to undergo two negative Covid-19 tests before even leaving their home country,” Ege says.

MS Roald Amundsen was scheduled to sail to Svalbard on Friday afternoon. That voyage is now cancelled. The next cruise with the ship is not planned until September.

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