UPDATED: A German cruiseship from a fleet that regularly sails off the Norwegian coast stayed tied up at the dock in Haugesund on Tuesday. Two of its German passengers were suspected of being infected with the Corona virus, and the cruiseline itself wanted them to be tested.
The AIDA aura, with 1,200 passengers on board, was supposed to sail from Haugesund on Norway’s west coast Monday afternoon. Instead it remained tied up on Tuesday after its agent, acting on behalf of cruiseline Rostock-based AIDA Cruises, asked that it be allowed to remain at the pier for another day while waiting for test results.
The two passengers, who were being held in quarantine in their cabin, were tested by health authorities in Haugesund on Monday, reported state broadcaster NRK. Both of them were said to have had close contact a week ago with a third person in Germany who since had tested positive for Corona in Germany. The third person is not on board the vessel.
Teis Qvale, an infectious disease specialist for the city of Haugesund, said neither passenger showed signs of illness from the Corona virus when he visited them on board. He also said they did not require hospitalization. As for the risk they may have posed to others, Qvale said he felt confident that the vessel’s crew had imposed strict hygiene rules on board and that they’d taken precautions.
The German passengers’ tests were sent by express post to the closest hospital handing Corona testing, Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, with results expected early Tuesday afternoon. They finally came around 4pm, and both passengers tested negative. NRK reported that they no longer wanted to continue the cruise and would disembark at Haugesund before the ship sailed.
That cleared the vessel for sailing, after a longer-than-expected stay in a city rich in Viking history. Local officials had earlier expressed some alarm that several passengers had gone ashore, and could have spread the virus further if they’d been infected themselves. State health director Bjørn Guldvog had been following the situation closely, not long after announcing that a total of 32 people in Norway had tested positive to the virus as of Tuesday afternoon.
AIDA Cruises is a German cruise line that’s now part of the US-based Carnival Corporation. Its unusually painted vessels are a common sight in Norwegian ports, now year-round as the cruise market has expanded dramatically.