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Royal Caribbean's enhanced health protocols catch positive COVID-19 case on cruise ship

In:
08 Dec 2020
By: 
Matt Hochberg

A positive case of Coronavirus has been identified and isolated aboard the only Royal Caribbean cruise ship in operation.

UPDATE: The passenger has tested negative in three different tests

Cruise Critic is reporting a positive case of COVID-19 has been identified on Quantum of the Seas and as a result, the ship is headed back to Singapore as part of the government's protocols.

In addition, Royal Caribbean has isolated and quarantined the guests and crew that had close contact with the guest, per the cruise line's protocols.

Royal Caribbean confirmed the case and issued a statement regarding what is happening.

One guest aboard Quantum of the Seas tested positive for coronavirus after checking in with our medical team.

We identified and isolated all guests and crew who had close contact with this guest, and each of those individuals have subsequently tested negative for the virus.

The ship is returning to port today in accordance with government protocols, and will debark guests after a review of contact tracing is completed.

We are in communication with the Singapore government, and appreciate their guidance as we work together to protect the health and safety of our guests and crew.

We worked closely with the government to develop a thorough system that tests and monitors all guests and crew and follows public health best practices. That we were able to quickly identify this single case and take immediate action is a sign that the system is working as it was designed to do.

Quantum of the Seas resumed cruises last week, offering short cruises from Singapore and only to residents of Singapore.

Quantum of the Seas is equipped  with upgraded medical facilities where rapid SARS-CoV-2 tests can be conducted onboard to provide rapid, accurate onsite RT-PCR testing with results in under an hour, alongside a multitude of other evaluative tests. 

In addition, every guest on the ship is wearing either a contact tracing token or utilizing a contact tracing app to identify exactly who may have come in contact with someone that tests positive.

Multi-tiered plan to mitigate risks

Early on, Royal Caribbean said its plans had to accept risk and acknowledge there are no guarantees.

One of the co-chairmen of the Healthy Sail Panel's co-chairmen, Governor Mike Leavitt, talked about the realities of planning new policies and procedures with realistic expectations.

When Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings created the Healthy Sail Panel, they had to recognize nothing in society is every completely safe, and you have to accept that risk before crafting a response for it.

"We put together this combination not just because of their subject matter expertise, but because they have had long experience in evaluating ideas and being able to come to an understanding that there's no place in our society that you can say is absolutely 100 percent safe."

"We all manage risks every day, whether we're walking across the street or opening a package of food. There's some kind of risk involved in all of that."

"The idea isn't that we can eliminate all of that. The idea is we can manage it and understanding that perspective and recognizing that it requires judgment to do this well."

Response plan

Royal Caribbean developed a plan to respond to a scenario such as this, and coordinated these plans with the Singaporean government.

According to Royal Caribbean's health protocols, in the event a guest tests positive for COVID-19, a "robust, tiered response plan" goes into effect.

The tiers increase protocols and vigilance onboard while providing transparent updates to guests the whole way.

In partnership with local authorities, Royal Caribbean has developed transport protocols to ensure we can get guests home safely. 

In fact, Royal Caribbean identified early that being "stuck" in quarantine on a cruise ship was not something any guest wanted, and a result, Royal Caribbean has developed transport agreements with local authorities in a situation like this to get everyone home safely.