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COVID-19 Outbreak Hits One of the First Cruise Ships Back at Sea

Newsweek logo Newsweek 8/1/2020 Ewan Palmer
a boat on a body of water: Tourists are seen onboard the Hurtigruten hybrid expedition cruise ship, MS Roald Amundsen, at sea, on October 29, 2019. Four crew members on a Norwegian cruise vessel were diagnosed with COVID-19 after it arrived at the Arctic port of Tromsø Friday morning. © JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Tourists are seen onboard the Hurtigruten hybrid expedition cruise ship, MS Roald Amundsen, at sea, on October 29, 2019. Four crew members on a Norwegian cruise vessel were diagnosed with COVID-19 after it arrived at the Arctic port of Tromsø Friday morning.

Four members onboard one of the first cruise liners in the world to resume operations after they were halted amid the COVID-19 outbreak have tested positive for the virus.

The staff on Norwegian cruise liner Hurtigruten's ship MS Roald Amundsen tested positive after it docked in the port of Tromsø, north of Norway, on Friday.

In a statement, Hurtigruten said there are currently no passengers on board the ship and all 177 guests will be contacted with information from the health authorities, including to self-isolate.

The four crew members who tested positive for COVID-19 were admitted to University Hospital of North Norway. All 160 crew members on board will be also tested.

"The safety of our guests and crews is Hurtigruten's highest priority. We are working closely with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI), Tromsø municipality, UNN and other resources both locally and nationally," said Rune Thomas Ege, Vice President of Global Communications in Hurtigruten.

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The company said that none of the crew member were showing symptoms for COVID-19 when they arrived in Tromsø and tested as protocol.

"There was no reason to suspect COVID-19 when the ship docked in Tromsø based on the symptoms the four of the crew had," Ege said, according to The Maritime Executive. "Fortunately, we received a quick response to the tests, so that both we and the Tromsø municipality were able to implement measures."

MS Roald Amundsen was scheduled to sail to Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean on Friday afternoon. The company has now confirmed that voyage has been canceled, and the next cruise with the ship is not planned until September.

Hurtigruten said that all crew members were closely monitored and screened on a daily basis during the voyage, which set off earlier this month.

Speaking to Reuters, Line Miriam Haugan, a former junior minister at Norway's Ministry of Health who was on board, said passengers were frequently instructed to socially distance to help stop any potential spread of COVID-19.

"The crew observed us washing our hands and also took our temperatures," Haugan said. "When I learned of the outbreak, I immediately went for a test and will quarantine at least until I get the result."

As reported by The Points Guy, none of the trips that Hurtigruten have restarted this month are available for American and only been open to travelers from certain European countries.

All the vessels were operating at below 50 percent capacity and a number of other changes such as the removal of buffets were brought in for health and safety reasons.

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