Cruise ship passengers test positive for Covid
Passengers from a cruise ship that docked in Bermuda this week remained on the island after they tested positive for the coronavirus.
A Ministry of Transport spokeswoman said five people on the Crystal Symphony were infected and stayed at a hotel with their immediate close contacts.
She explained that the passengers tested positive when the ship was on its way to the island.
But a Crystal Cruises representative added that another guest received a positive result after further testing.
The transport ministry spokeswoman said: “During the crossing from New York City to Bermuda, PCR nasopharyngeal tests are administered on board Crystal Symphony.
“On arrival in Bermuda and following Ministry of Health guidance and protocol, the ship was quarantined while the crew and guests were tested again.”
She said that samples were collected by pilot boat and brought to shore then taken to the Government’s Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory.
The spokeswoman added that the ship, which arrived on Sunday, remained in quarantine until the results were known.
She said: “There were five positive passengers.
“Bermuda health authorities did their assessment of the five and their close contacts and worked with [the] ship before the all-clear was given on Monday at 2pm.”
The spokeswoman added that the guests who had not tested positive "resumed scheduled tours and on-island activities” after the Ministry of Health’s clearance.
She pointed out that all crew and guests on the Crystal Symphony were fully vaccinated.
The spokeswoman added: “All guests have a pre-departure PCR test taken as part of the Bermuda Travel Authorisation process and only negative PCR test result passengers may board the ship following a negative antigen test result conducted in the terminal by Crystal Cruises before embarkation in New York City.”
Lawrence Scott, the Minister of Transport, said: “Crystal Cruises has followed the framework and response plan as agreed by the Ministry of Health.
“Public health guidelines were executed and managed well.
“I am proud of the co-ordinated effort by the Ministry of Health working alongside the ship’s agent, Meyer Agencies.”
The transport ministry spokeswoman added: “With the assistance of Crystal Cruises, guests who tested positive along with close contacts were transported to a local hotel for an assessment and retesting.
“Positive guests and their immediate close contacts remain at the local hotel to complete their quarantine period and the remaining contacts who received a negative test result on September 28 were free to fly home or reboard the Crystal Symphony.”
A spokeswoman for Crystal Cruises said last night that a sixth passenger received a positive result after additional testing.
She explained: “Bermuda health authorities sail aboard Crystal Symphony and during their pre-arrival in Bermuda testing for all guests and crew, five guests tested positive for Covid-19 with 14 guests identified as close contacts.
“Per local Bermuda health regulations, guests who tested positive, as well as close contacts, were disembarked and transferred to a local quarantine hotel designated by Bermuda health authorities.”
The Crystal spokeswoman said: “Subsequent testing resulted in one additional guest testing positive, with two guests identified as close contacts.
“On the evening of Monday, September 27, all close contacts had PCR swabs collected for retesting and were analysed with on-board equipment, reverting with all passengers having negative test results.
“The Bermuda health authorities granted permission for all close contacts and their travelling partners to return to the vessel on September 28.
“Some guests opted to fly home and Crystal is making arrangements with the US Consulate for repatriation.
“Remaining guests who were granted permission to depart Bermuda are under strict protocols to wear face masks and observe social distancing when in public areas on Crystal Symphony during the transit back to New York City.”
She added: “Five close contacts among the crew have also been identified and per operational protocols have been quarantined where they are being well cared for.
“All have tested negative and are being closely monitored.”
The Crystal spokeswoman said that the ship was making its return to New York, where it was due to arrive tomorrow.
She added: “As always, ensuring the care, safety and wellbeing of everyone in our Crystal family is our deepest concern and guiding principal.
“We sincerely appreciate our guests’ understanding as we navigate these circumstances and empathise with everyone affected.”
The spokeswoman said that the company developed “stringent and comprehensive” measures in response to Covid-19.
She added that “so-called breakthrough cases, in which people get affected after vaccination, are expected” according to a Centres for Disease Control and Prevention study that was published in June.
Joe Simas, the vice-president for marine operations for Meyer Agencies, said that the ship, which berthed at King’s Wharf, left on time at 5pm yesterday.
He added that Crystal Symphony was scheduled for another eight calls this year.
• UPDATE: This article has been updated to include additional information from the Ministry of Transport and Crystal Cruises.