Four crew members of a Norwegian cruise ship were diagnosed with COVID-19 after arriving at the arctic port of Tromsoe on Friday, the University Hospital of North Norway, where they are being treated, said.
The 160 crew of the Roald Amundsen have been quarantined on the ship, while the 177 passengers – all of whom have already disembarked – are contacted by phone and told to self-isolate, operator Hurtigruten said.
“By the time we were informed, the passengers had left the ship,” Tromsoe Municipality Chief Medical Officer Kathrine Kristoffersen told a press conference. “All passengers will, for the moment, be invited to quarantine. “
The four patients were all foreign citizens, the hospital said, while declining to give details of their medical condition or nationality.
During the cruise, passengers were often instructed to move away socially in order to reduce the risk of illness, said passenger Line Miriam Haugan, former junior minister in the Norwegian Ministry of Health.
“The crew watched us wash our hands and also took our temperatures,” Haugan told Reuters news agency.
“When I learned of the outbreak, I immediately went for a test and will at least quarantine until I get the result,” she added.
The ship was due to go to Spitsbergen on Friday afternoon, but that trip has now been canceled.
The operator and owner of the vessel, Hurtigruten, which suspended most operations in March due to the pandemic, announced on July 7 that it would gradually return all but two of its 16 vessels to service by the end of September, but with reduced capacity.
The Roald Amundsen had made a week-long trip from Tromsoe to the Svalbard archipelago, midway between Europe and the North Pole, and is expected to sail around the British Isles in September, docking at ports in England and Scotland.
At the start of the pandemic, thousands of passengers found themselves stranded on cruise ships in waters in Asia, the United States and elsewhere, leading operators to cancel their trips and trigger layoffs massive amounts of industry.