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So About the COVID Scare on That Cruise Ship...

Elderly man actually didn't have the virus, officials now say of false alarm off Singapore
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2020 9:04 AM CST

(Newser) – That "cruise to nowhere" off of Singapore could have stayed out in nowhere for a little longer after all. Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas returned to port on Wednesday, a day earlier than the pleasure cruise was expected to, after an elderly man on board reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. But health officials are now saying the positive test was a false alarm, CBS News reports. The 83-year-old had taken a mandatory coronavirus test before boarding the ship Monday, and that test was negative. After the ship had set sail he visited the onboard medical center complaining of diarrhea, and a second test showed he was positive for the virus.

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The vessel returned to shore, and nearly 1,700 guests were kept in their rooms for more than 16 hours as contact tracing was carried out, per Reuters. They were allowed to get off the ship Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, the supposedly infected passenger was taken to a local hospital, while his close contacts on the ship were quarantined. Three follow-up tests showed that he didn't have the coronavirus after all. "We have rescinded the quarantine orders of his close contacts," the country's health agency says. While the passengers who had their trip cut short probably aren't thrilled, some see a silver lining. "Yesterday's incident has given us valuable learnings for future sailings," the head of the Singapore Tourism Board tells Al Jazeera. "It has also given assurance that our established response to any future COVID-19 case is swift and effective." (Read more cruise ships stories.)

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