Crew members who are employed aboard a Hurtigruten ship tested positive today for COVID-19, according to several newspapers in Norway. Nordlys reports that the crew members work on the Hurtigruten expedition cruise ship, the MS Roald Amundsen, which reportedly recently sailed to Svalbard with around 200 passengers. The Hurtigruten ship is currently located at the dock in Tromsø, Norway after arriving in port this morning. It permiited all of its passengers to do ashore, apparently without notifying anyone that its crew members were infected with COVID-19.
Nordlys states that two employees tested positive. NRK reports in an update that there are three crew members who tested positive.
At least two of the ship employees are now hospitalized at the University Hospital in northern Norway, after being isolated several days ago due to another illness. Hurtigruten claims that the COVID-19 testing was part of “routine” testing of its crew members. It denies that these crew members showed symptoms of COVID-19. Hurtigruten has not disclosed the nature of the illnesses to the public.
Hurtigurten states that all 160 crew members on board will be tested.
The company did not disclose whether these crew members were previously tested, either while at home or immediately before they joined the ship or after boarding the ship. The company did not release any details of the employees’ work or whether they came into regular contact with guests who were previously on the ship.
The University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN) released a press release indicating that the two hospitalized crew members are “foreign nationals.”
Hurtigruten cancelled the cruise that was schedule to sail today to Svalbard which was scheduled to arrive in Longyearbyen on August 4th. The company also said that it contacted “all guests who were on board the ship’s last voyages to give them information and pass on the authorities’ advice.”
Nordyls wrote: “When “Roald Amundsen” docked in Tromsø on Friday morning, the corona alarm had already gone off. Nevertheless, Hurtigruten manages to release the 200 cruise passengers who had been on board the ship for a whole week, ashore. In Tromsø, they could walk around freely, go to a café, get in a taxi or on a bus, or on a plane, to get home. Without knowing that they might be infected by the dangerous and, in the worst case, deadly virus. Passengers Nordlys has spoken to say that they did not know anything about the coronavirus on board until they read about it in the newspaper.'”
This dreadful news follows ten AIDA crew members testing positive last week. Today, the Norwegian newspaper VG News reports that AIDA cruises ships, which were planned to call at Stavanger at the end of August, will not be not allowed to disembark passengers ashore. TUI Group which manages operations of the Mein Schif fleet of cruise ships admitted that at least five crew members tested positive for COVID-19. We initially reported this news on July 21st but TUI did not respond to requests for information until over a week later. It appears that neither Hurtigruten nor the AIDA or Mein Schiff companies require or provide COVID-19 testing of their guests. As we have written before, without such testing of the passengers, the new screening protocols of the European cruise lines are likely to fail.
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Update: Norway’s largest newspaper writes that the hospital “UNN wrote on Twitter that four employees with foreign citizenship at Hurtigruten had been admitted to hospital with a proven covid-19. Dagbladet reports that 337 people have been quarantined. 177 are passengers and 160 are crew members.”
Major Update: VG newspaper reports Hurtigruten was notified of passengers with infection after the previous trip – thought there was no cause for concern. Outrageous.
August 1, 2020 Update: The Norwegian press is reporting that “33 of 158 crew members (29 new positive cases + 4 original cases = 33) on Hurtigruten’s expedition ship MS Roald Amundsen have tested positive for corona infection…” No word yet regarding the test results for the guests of around 177 people who were disembarked at the port in Norway (60 people in quarantine at port). To be continued.
August 20, 2020 Update: According to the Norwegian press, a total of 71 people now reportedly infected with COVID-19 on the Hurtigruten MS Roald Amundsen. 29 passengers and 42 employees were confirmed positive with COVID-19 by the Norwegian National Institute of Public Health. The figures had been justed upwards after people who first tested negative, later tested positive. The ship has been isolated at the quay in Tromsø since the outbreak at the end of July. (translation via Google translate).
Photo credits: Ambulance in Tromsø, Norway – Herman Henriksen via Nordlys; the MS Roald Amundsen – Hurtigruten.