60 passengers tested positive for Covid-19 after a river cruise


A German river cruise has become the focus of a high profile event after around two-thirds of passengers on board tested positive for Covid-19.

Holidaymakers, mostly Swiss, took a folk music-themed cruise from Passau to Frankfurt between October 10 and 17, aboard the MS Swiss Crystal operated by Scylla AG.

Organizers Hanspeter and Elsbeth Balsiger, who have both tested positive for Covid-19 since the cruise, said protective measures were in place.

During the cruise, social distancing was enforced and masks had to be worn until passengers sat down for dinner or in the lounge. For the excursions, a double-decker bus was hired in place of the cars so that people could flourish. The passengers were also subjected to daily temperature tests for fever.

But at dinner time, when the masks were removed, there was a marching band that performed, sang and yoded according to the guests on board.

After the cruise, around 60 of the 92 passengers on board tested positive for Covid-19, and all are now either in isolation or in quarantine.

Virologist Andreas Cerny told local press look that the mass-market event came as no surprise given that people “don’t wear masks while consuming and talk loudly with brass music and yodeling in the background”. Both of these have the potential to create and spread coronavirus-carrying droplets.

He added: “This river cruise should not have taken place. The planning was probably done at a time when the number of cases was still low and then it was not adapted to the current situation of the number of rapidly increasing cases.

The independent contacted Scylla AG for further comments.

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The contained outbreak occurred aboard the Costa Diadema, which took off from Genoa on September 28 and completed its voyage on October 12, before beginning a second navigation with several of the same passengers on board.

During the first navigation, seven travelers tested positive for Covid-19 after trips to the Greek islands and had to self-isolate on board before leaving the ship in Palermo on October 10.

However, new contact tracing technology piloted by Costa has identified another passenger who may be infected.

The 78-year-old man has also tested positive for Covid-19.

The UK government currently advises against sea cruises, but river cruises are exempt from the travel advisory.


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