Passengers on a Royal Caribbean "cruise to nowhere" really can't go anywhere—they're not even allowed to leave their rooms after a fellow shipmate tested positive for COVID-19, the Straits Times reports. In a Wednesday statement, Singapore Tourism Board rep Annie Chang says the 83-year-old Singaporean man had already taken a mandatory coronavirus test before boarding the Quantum of the Seas, which left port on Monday for a four-day pleasure cruise. But when he came to the ship's medical center complaining of diarrhea, he was given another test, and it came back positive. Passengers were alerted at around 2:45am Wednesday the ship was heading back to port, and that their meals would be delivered to their rooms. The patient was isolated, as were his close contacts, and he was taken to the hospital once the ship made it back to shore.
CNN notes the 2,850 or so crew and Singaporean passengers will remain stuck on the ship until contact tracing is carried out; disembarkation is expected to begin Wednesday evening. Per the Guardian, the ship had been prepped to fend off and handle possible virus cases before heading out to sea, including circulating fresh air via the vessel's AC system and setting up an on-ship hospital complete with ventilators. Crew members not from Singapore had to quarantine for 14 days in their home nation, plus two more weeks in Singapore before boarding. Bloomberg notes the incident, which happened in a nation that has more or less eliminated local transmission, underscores the continuing challenges faced by the cruise industry as it tries to limp back to some sort of operation. The cruises to nowhere had been part of Singapore's blueprint for slowly getting its tourism industry back up and running. (Read more cruises stories.)