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48 people test positive for COVID on Royal Caribbean cruise

December 20, 2021, 5:19 PM UTC

On Dec. 11, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, one of the world’s largest cruise ships, set sail from Miami. When it pulled back into port Saturday, 48 passengers and staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

The outbreak was discovered via contact tracing after a passenger was identified with the virus and affected people were immediately put into quarantine.

Royal Caribbean, in a statement, said, “Everyone who tested positive was asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and we continuously monitored their health.”

All of the passengers on board the ship over the age of 12 were required to be fully vaccinated and were confirmed negative via a test when they came on board. The cruise docked at St. Martin, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas.

While it’s not an insignificant number of people, the 48 infections represent less than 1% of the total people on board the ship. Still, it brings back some bad memories and once again fans fears among cruise stock investors, who saw ships sit in dry dock for 15 months due to the pandemic. It was on board a Princess Cruises ship—the Diamond Princess—that 712 people became infected in one of the first major outbreaks outside of China. Passengers were quarantined on the ship beginning Feb. 1, and many who were not infected were not permitted to leave their cabins until Feb. 17 or Feb. 19.

The cruise industry has since made several changes to how it handles passengers, ranging from reduced capacity to changes to the buffets.

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