Hong Kong stops cruise ship with 3,700 on board after Covid contacts traced to vessel

Nine people on cruise classified as close contacts of an Omicron cluster

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 05 January 2022 12:55
<p>Passengers stand on the deck of the Royal Caribbean vessel ‘Spectrum of the Seas’ at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong</p>

Passengers stand on the deck of the Royal Caribbean vessel ‘Spectrum of the Seas’ at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong

A Hong Kong leisure cruise ship with 3,700 holidaymakers and crew members onboard was ordered to cut short its journey after at least nine people were linked to an Omicron cluster.

The  Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas ship embarked on a “cruise to nowhere” on Sunday and was set to complete its voyage on Thursday, but was forced to return a day early to harbour, according to a government statement.

This was after health authorities identified nine people on the cruise as close contacts of one of the clusters infected with the heavily-mutated Omicron variant.

The cruise’s suspected cases are linked to an outbreak emerging from Cathay Pacific crew members who broke isolation rules and dined at restaurants and bars in the city, before testing positive for the Omicron variant.

The cruise returned early morning on Wednesday and passengers were being held on board while they awaited testing.

Royal Caribbean said in a statement that the nine guests were immediately isolated and all of them tested negative. The company added that it was working closely with authorities to comply with epidemic prevention policies and regulations.

Royal Caribbean said guests who were on board the affected ship would receive a 25 per cent refund on their fare.

The cruise ship was ordered back to Hong Kong earlier than scheduled after nine people on board were found to be linked to a suspected new Omicron variant cluster

The outbreak among airline staff has caused a flurry of activity from the authorities, including the lockdown of two residential buildings in Causeway Bay on Tuesday night.

Hong Kong has reported 114 cases of the Omicron variant so far, with a majority of these cases identified as coming from the airport and from travellers undergoing a mandatory 21-day hotel quarantine.

The city has seen just over 12,000 infections and 213 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Like mainland China, Hong Kong follows a zero-Covid policy which strives to achieve zero local transmissions of the virus.

Authorities in Hong Kong have maintained strict policies of sealing residential complexes with outbreaks, having quarantines that stretch for weeks, targeted lockdowns and mass testing.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in