An 83-year-old passenger who tested negative for COVID-19 prior to boarding Royal Caribbean International’s first short voyage to nowhere from Singapore this week, subsequently tested positive after becoming ill onboard and visiting Quantum of the Seas' medical center.
The voyage—the line's first sailing in months—was cut short this week, the ship returned to Singapore and a subsequent cruise cancelled.
That said, two additional COVID-19 tests for the sick passenger have come back negative, Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday. Another test will be conducted tomorrow, that health ministry said.
Update: the Ministry of Health has since confirmed that the passenger does not have COVID-19, following additional tests. Singapore’s pilot for safe cruises will continue as planned, following the swift and robust response to the suspected COVID-19 case on board Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas yesterday, according to the Singapore Tourism Board.
Royal Caribbean's Statement
In a statement sent to Travel Agent on Wednesday morning, Royal Caribbean International said:
"In the last 24 hours, one guest aboard Quantum of the Seas tested positive for coronavirus after checking in with our medical team. All guests and crew who came in close contact were immediately traced, isolated and tested, and found to be negative.
"The ship returned to port today in accordance with government protocols. The guest has been transported to a medical facility for care and further testing.
"We have been working closely with the Singapore government to ensure that all guests currently onboard Quantum of the Seas can disembark safely and smoothly. As part of existing protocols, guests will undergo an antigen test at the terminal before departing. In addition, our entire crew will undergo PCR tests.
"The entire ship will also go thorough deep cleaning and disinfection after all guests have disembarked.
"All guests on our December 7, 2020 sailing will be compensated for the missed day at sea.
"The health and safety of our guests and crew are of utmost importance to us, and we have made the decision to cancel the four-night cruise departing tomorrow, December 10.
"Under the guidance of the Singapore government, we have created a thorough set of protocols designed to mitigate risk, including PCR and antigen testing of all guests and crew before boarding. Being able to identify this single case and act on it immediately demonstrates the system is working as it is designed to."
All passengers boarding the ship were required to take a mandatory COVID-19 test prior to boarding. This situation has shed some light on testing quirks. Guests can test negative one day, but positive the next, and false positives can occur as well.
A guest who tested negative prior to boarding a recent SeaDream Yacht Club sailing later tested positive; nine people altogether tested positive, causing cancellation of the line’s late 2020 voyages in the Caribbean. And, earlier in the year, UnCruise Adventures also cancelled its Alaska season a few months ago when a guest tested positive; that was later confirmed to be a false positive.