Young child among 43 cruise ship passengers testing positive for coronavirus

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The number of passengers on a Norwegian cruise ship who have tested positive for the coronavirus has reached 43, authorities said Tuesday. The outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen raised new questions about safety on cruise ships during the pandemic even as the industry is pressing to resume sailings after shutting down in March.

The ship’s owner on Monday halted all trips and Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks.

The city of Trondheim reported the two new cases – a man in his 70s with light symptoms and a child under age 10 with no symptoms – saying both had been passengers on the ship. They were not identified.

A third passenger will be tested Tuesday, the city said. Trondheim sits about halfway to Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle, where the empty ship is docked.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tromso
The MS Roald Amundsen ship, operated by Norway’s Hurtigruten line, leaves a port in Tromso after its crew members were diagnosed with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tromso, Norway August 2, 2020. 

Terje Pedersen/NTB Scanpix/ via REUTERS


But since the cruise line often acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port along Norway’s west coast, some passengers disembarked along the route and may have spread the virus to local communities.

A total of 69 municipalities in Norway could have been affected, Norwegian news agency NTB reported on Monday.

The Hurtigruten cruise line was one of the first companies to resume sailing during the pandemic, starting cruises to Norway out of northern Germany in June with a single ship, then adding cruises in July to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard that is part of the Scandinavian country.

In Tromsoe, 41 passengers who had tested positive have been admitted to a hospital. The cruise line said it suspended the ship and two others – the MS Fridtjof Nansen and the MS Spitsbergen – from operating for an indefinite period.

It’s not clear how the MS Roald Amundsen outbreak began. NTB reported that 33 of the infected crew members came from the Philippines and the others were from Norway, France and Germany. The passengers were from all over the world.

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