Pilot for safe cruises to go on as planned
STB says protocols validated after 'swift and robust' response when passenger initially tested positive
Singapore's pilot for safe cruises will continue as planned, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) yesterday.
This comes after an elderly passenger on board Royal Caribbean International's Quantum of the Seas fell sick and tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the ship to return to Singapore on Wednesday, day three of a four-day voyage.
But yesterday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said three subsequent tests showed that the 83-year-old man did not have Covid-19.
MOH said it will support the laboratory on board the cruise ship "in its review of its testing processes".
In a statement, STB described the response to the case as "swift and robust", adding that protocols were validated by the response.
STB chief executive Keith Tan said: "Safety remains our foremost priority ... (the) incident has given us valuable learnings for future sailings, such as the importance of using TraceTogether for effective contact tracing.
"It has also given assurance that our established response to any future Covid-19 case is swift and effective," he added.
On the negative test result and the continuation of the pilot, Royal Caribbean said: "We welcome this news and we wish our guest a speedy return to health."
The cruise operator added: "We appreciate the guidance of the Government and we will continue to work with them to refine our protocols."
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said false positives are a possibility in any test, and other protocols are needed to complement any testing regime.
"While (the case on) Wednesday might have turned out to be a false alarm, it has actually allowed the cruise industry to test all protocols to see how we can do this well and do this better," said Mr Chan.
"In fact, even as the vaccine comes around and is made available, we must continue to have a rigorous testing and tracking regime to complement the other parts," he said at a virtual press conference after a visit to the National University of Singapore's Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies yesterday.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: CALVIN YANG