In response to the outbreak on Hurtigruten’s MS Roald Amundsen — which had undergone two voyages last month — the company apologized and halted all cruises Monday.
Meanwhile, Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks amid health officials’ concerns that the outbreak may have infected people in dozens of towns and villages along the country’s western coast.
“The preliminary results now show that there are a total of 53 people with confirmed infection on these two voyages; 37 among the crew and 16 passengers,” the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said.
Before the newly confirmed cases, 41 people – including 5 passengers and 36 crew members – had been admitted to the University Hospital of North Norway after contracting the virus, reports said. The vessel is currently docked in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle.
Hurtigruten had previously reached out to guests who traveled on the MS Roald Amundsen for voyages from July 17-24 and July 25-31, cruising from Bergen in the south to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.
Passengers on the two voyages are required to quarantine for 10 days after leaving the ship, according to health officials in Norway. They must also follow up with the local health services in their home areas.
While the quarantine period for the first voyage has now expired, passengers from the second voyage were said to be from different parts of the country.
“It is important that all municipalities now receiving inquiries from passengers from MS Roald Amundsen and the voyage from July 24-31 prioritize testing, so that we can get an overview at the national level of the consequences of the outbreak, and thus prevent further spread,” the institute said.
The 16 infected passengers were registered as living in a total of seven Norwegian counties: Nordland, Oslo, Rogaland, Troms and Finnmark, Trøndelag, Vestland, and Viken.
The cruise liner often acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port along Norway’s west coast. Some passengers disembarked along the route and authorities fear they may have spread the virus to local communities.
“The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is Hurtigruten’s number one priority,” said Hurtigruten CEO, Daniel Skjeldam. “We are now focusing all available efforts in taking care of our guests and colleagues. We are working closely with the Norwegian National and Local Health Authorities for follow-up, information, further testing, and infection tracking.”
Norwegian news agency NTB reported that 33 of the 36 Hurtigruten crew members who recently tested positive arrived from the Philippines, while others came from Norway, France, and Germany. All 158 crew members have since been tested for the coronavirus, and 122 were said to be negative as of Monday morning.
Meanwhile, in the Arctic harbor of Bodoe, Norway, the crew and passengers on the cruise ship Seadream 1 all tested negative for the virus. The tests were made “in an abundance of caution,” according to Norway-based company that owns the ship, SeaDream Yacht Club.
The ship’s passengers were ordered to remain on board amid concerns from authorities after a passenger on a previous trip tested positive for the virus upon returning home.
Fox News’ Janine Puhak and the Associated Press contributed to this report