Coronavirus outbreak on Norwegian cruise ship

Dozens of people aboard one of the first cruise ships to hit the seas after the outbreak of coronavirus have been infected with the virus. 

Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten confirmed this weekend at least 36 crew members aboard the Roald Amundsen have tested positive for the virus. All 160 crew have been quarantined on the ship, which is currently docked in Tromso, northern Norway.

All 177 passengers have already disembarked however. All have been contacted and told to self-isolate, Hurtigruten said. None showed symptoms while on board, but it can take a couple of weeks for those to appear, if they appear at all.

"As part of the infection tracking, Hurtigruten has been made aware that a guest from the previous sailing... has tested positive for COVID-19," the company said, believing this is how the virus got on board. 

After halting cruises in March after major outbreaks on other companies' ships, Hurtigruten vessels resumed sailing in June, at reduced capacity.

"The safety of our guests and employees is Hurtigruten's most important priority, and we have strict routines to prevent infection," Hurtigruten said on Friday, when only four of the infections had been picked up.

"We have daily checks of everyone on board, both guests and crew. That these four cases were discovered and isolated early, even without symptoms of COVID-19, shows that our measures and routines work."

Another 32 cases were confirmed on Saturday

The Roald Amundsen.
The Roald Amundsen. Photo credit: Hurtigruten

More than 200 passengers who were on the Roald Amundsen's previous sailing have also been contacted and told to self-isolate. 

Norway has had 9253 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 255 deaths so far, but there are worrying signs of a new outbreak, with the reported number of daily cases rising in recent weeks. 

Neighbouring Sweden, which took a less restrictive approach to handling the pandemic, has had more than 80,000 confirmed cases and more than 5700 deaths.