3,000 people are confined to cabins on 'cruise to nowhere' ship off Singapore after a single Covid case is detected
A cruise ship full of 3,000 people has been forced to sit in a Singapore port after a single Covid case was detected on board.
The Dream Cruises ship's 1,646 passengers and 1,249 crew members have been asked to remain in their cabins on the 'cruise to nowhere' after the ocean liner was forced to make an early return to the city-state.
The 40-year-old passenger, like others on the ship, had tested negative before boarding.
But the Singapore Tourism Board's director for cruises Annie Chang said: 'The passenger was identified as a close contact of a confirmed case on land, and was immediately isolated as part of onboard health protocols.'
The passenger was taken to hospital for further tests, and the health ministry later confirmed they had the virus.
Local media reported the guest was fully vaccinated.
Passengers said they found out about the suspected case in an announcement at around 1am and had been asked to stay in their rooms since.
Chang said that as part of onboard health protocols, the passenger's three travelling companions were identified and isolated. All have tested negative for the virus.
All leisure activities on board the World Dream cruise ship have ceased, with the vessel undergoing a thorough disinfection process after returning to port early Wednesday.
Passengers have been confined in their cabins until test results are out and contact tracing is completed.
Passenger Rishi Lalwani said he was surprised by the positive case, given the testing and social distancing measures in place for the cruise.
'The COVID situation in Singapore seemed largely contained so, yes, a case in a cruise of 1,700 guests seemed a bit rare to happen. Especially because there haven't been cases on cruises to nowhere for months,' said Lalwani.
Tan Choon Seng, 51, was on his third cruise this year with some friends when the bad news came through, but at least it was nearly the end of the holiday, he said.
'We are thankful that this happened at 1am so we were done with all the activities,' Tan said in an online session with media organised by the operator. Tan said he was worried about quarantine but would still go on a cruise again.
The cruises, which start and end in Singapore, with no stops, were launched last year as part of the travel industry's attempt to bounce back from a pandemic-induced crunch.
They have proved popular among those seeking an escape from Singapore which has only had a mild outbreak but largely kept its borders closed.
World Dream's next sailing, a two-night voyage departing on Wednesday, has been cancelled.
The ship, owned and operated by Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group, left Singapore on Sunday evening for the four-day cruise and returned to port several hours earlier than scheduled.
Genting's Dream Cruises said it cancelled a voyage scheduled to depart later Wednesday, and that there had been no virus infections on any of its previous cruises.
A Royal Caribbean 'cruise to nowhere' was also cut short in December after an elderly man tested positive.
But that case proved to be a false alarm, with subsequent results coming back negative.
The cruise industry worldwide is struggling to get back on its feet after voyages were halted at the start of the pandemic, and several vessels were hit by outbreaks.
Singapore reported 56 locally-transmitted coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the highest number of daily domestic infections recorded in about 10 months.
Local media, citing authorities, reported that the case on the ship was part of a growing cluster of Covid-19 infections associated with karaoke lounges.