Multiple People Have Tested Positive For COVID-19 On A Cruise Ship In The Caribbean

It's the first voyage in the region since the pandemic shut down the cruise industry.

Multiple people have tested positive for the coronavirus on a cruise ship near Barbados during the first voyage in the Caribbean since the pandemic shut down the industry.

The captain of SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream 1 announced Thursday that the testing of close contacts of a passenger who originally tested positive on Wednesday revealed a total of five COVID-19 cases in the individual's party, according to travel reporter Gene Sloan, who is also a passenger.

Sloan and representatives for SeaDream did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' requests for comment.

The cruise line company said in a statement earlier on Thursday that the vessel had returned to Barbados "after guests' tests for Covid-19 returned assumptive positive results," although the total number was not given.

The company said all crew members have since tested negative and that it was currently retesting all passengers aboard the vessel. All guests and nonessential crew members are currently in quarantine.

“We are working closely with local health and government authorities to resolve this situation in the best possible way," SeaDream’s Andreas Brynestad said in a statement. "Our main priority is the health and safety of our crew, guests, and the communities we visit.”

Guests were tested twice for the coronavirus before setting out to sea on Saturday, according to Brynestad.

The cruise line resumed sailing over the summer in Norway. In August, a SeaDream voyage on the same ship was paused for one day after a guest tested positive for COVID-19. The cruise line said it determined the result was a false positive after a second test came back negative.

According to Sloan, who has been documenting the Caribbean voyage for the Points Guy, an American travel website and blog, there are 53 guests and 66 crew members on board the SeaDream 1.

Sloan said that before the positive test results, life on the ship felt relatively normal, adding that passengers were only required to wear masks while moving around the yacht as of Monday.

"Initially, as the cruise began, SeaDream didn’t require passengers to wear masks, and not a single one of the 53 passengers on board chose to do so," he wrote. "The consensus among passengers on board was that the COVID testing regime was so rigorous that mask-wearing was redundant."

When the coronavirus outbreak began spiraling out of control earlier this year, cruise ships emerged as hot spots for the virus due to poor onboard ventilation and what experts said were botched quarantines. An outbreak on the Diamond Princess ship in Japan infected more than 700 people and led to nine deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seventy-eight people tested positive for COVID-19 in another outbreak on the Grand Princess off the coast of California.

The outbreaks prompted the CDC to issue no-sail orders for the cruise ship industry. On Oct. 30, the agency issued a new framework to allow a phased approach to resume sailing in US waters.

SeaDream's voyages aren't covered by the CDC order because their itineraries do not pass through US waters, according to Sloan.

The positive test results on the SeaDream 1 yacht come as cases of the coronavirus surge in the US and other countries. Earlier this week, the US passed the grim milestone of 10 million coronavirus cases; on Thursday, California became the second state, after Texas, to record more than 1 million cases.

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