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Norwegian police to probe into COVID-19 handling on board cruise ship

Published : 04 Aug 2020, 00:44

  DF News Desk

File Photo Xinhua.

The Norwegian police announced on Monday that they will start investigating the handling of the COVID-19 outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian cruise ship, reported Xinhua quoting to Norsk TV2.

Thirty-six crew members and four passengers on board the MS Roald Amundsen have been confirmed to be COVID-19 positive days after their return from a scenic voyage. Thirty-three of the infected crew members are from the Philippines, a nation hit hard by the virus, and three from France, Norway and Germany, according to a press release from the ship's owner Hurtigruten late Sunday.

The first case of the coronavirus onboard the cruise ship occurred last Wednesday and was discovered in a crew member.

The Institute of Public Health, on the same day, swiftly advised the Hurtigruten to notify all passengers on board the cruise ship of the possibility of an infection, according to the Norsk TV2.

"The infection control doctor notified the captain and the ship doctor on both the first and second voyages. In addition, we notified the 'officer of hygiene' on the second voyage. We also had conversations with a communications consultant at Hurtigruten," said municipal doctor Ingebjorn Bleidvin.

However, it was only when the cruise ship sailed into the port of Tromso, 1,757 km north of Oslo, last Friday that passengers of the voyage were finally informed.

"I was not aware of the advice from the National Institute of Public Health," said Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten, on the belated notification to passengers to Norsk TV2.

Meanwhile, public health officials in Norway are deeply concerned that as many as 69 Norwegian municipalities could be affected by the cruise ship outbreak since the MS Roald Amundsen made 35 ports of call on its 12-day voyage along a route known as "The World's Most Beautiful Sea Journey".

Since last Friday, 386 passengers and crew on board the MS Roald Amundsen have been in quarantine.

"It is difficult to prevent the infection from spreading on board a ship," Norsk Tv2 quoted Orjan Olsvik, professor of medical microbiology at the Faculty of Health Sciences of Norwegian Arctic University, as saying.

"If you look at the cruise ship in China's Shanghai in February, which did not dock until after several days to prevent infection in the city, then you should not let people get off the boat without follow-up," noted Olsvik.