Royal Caribbean COVID-19 case 'not unexpected', Government prepared for it: Chan Chun Sing
SINGAPORE: The suspected COVID-19 case reported on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship was “not unexpected” and the Singapore Government was prepared for it, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Wednesday (Dec 9).
“When we embarked on this pilot, I think we never thought that such things will never happen. We have always made the assumption that someday, something may happen,” Mr Chan told reporters on the sidelines of his visit to the Siemens Advance Manufacturing Transformation Center.
“That's why it's important for us to have a protocol to make sure that if something like that happens, we are able to contact trace quickly, isolate the cases necessary, and for the rest of the activities to continue.”
On Wednesday morning, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas ship returned to Singapore a day ahead of schedule after an 83-year-old passenger tested positive for COVID-19.
The ship began sailing again this month as part of a pilot scheme that allows cruises to nowhere – round-trips with no ports of call – and with a maximum capacity of 50 per cent only to Singapore residents.
The precautions included pre-departure and post-arrival COVID-19 tests. Guests were also required to carry the TraceTogether token or have the app installed on their phones, and to wear masks and social distance at all times.
The passenger who tested positive was immediately isolated and his initial close contacts were identified and isolated, said the Singapore Tourism Board. These contacts have since tested negative for COVID-19 and further contact tracing is ongoing.
READ: ‘Definitely I’ll go again’: Some Royal Caribbean passengers say no regrets going on cruise that was cut short by COVID-19 case
READ: After COVID-19 case, Quantum of the Seas cruise scheduled for Dec 10 to go ahead: Royal Caribbean
Mr Chan said that with the protocols that have been put in place, the public can be assured that such incidents can be managed properly.
“Today is an example of how we have detected that case,” he said. “So this is not unexpected. In fact, precisely because we were concerned that such things may happen, we have put in place the necessary protocols.”
The incident is also an example of how Singapore will manage risks that emerge from the resumption of economic activities, he said.
“As we recover from the pandemic, as we resume our economic activities, we work on the basis of a risk management strategy, rather than risk elimination strategy. Because the risk elimination strategy, zero risk means not to do anything. And that would not be compatible with our overall strategy.”
As of Tuesday, Singapore has reported a total of 58,285 COVID-19 cases.
Additional reporting by Brandon Tanoto.