Cordelia Cruise case: Company blames passengers, says were fully vaccinated, had negative RT-PCR
Mumbai, Jan 4: Waterways Leisure Tourism on Tuesday said passengers who boarded Cordelia Cruise ship last Sunday were not only fully vaccinated but had all tested negative in their RT-PCR at the time of boarding.
Besides, all guests who tested positive are all asymptomatic, the cruise liner said in a statement, while maintaining that Cordelia Cruise is "compliant with all regulations by DG Shipping and follows all COVID protocols." It also said that the company is extending "complete cooperation" to the port authorities, state, central and all other agencies and offices in the matter. The company said that as of today, due to rising Omicron cases, the cruise scheduled for January 5 has been suspended following DG Shipping's advisory.
The statement came after as many as 66 of the 2,000 people onboard the cruise liner, carrying hordes of New Year revellers, tested positive for COVID-19 on its arrival in Goa from Mumbai.
"The guests that boarded the cruise last Sunday had all tested negative in their RT-PCR at the time of boarding. They were also fully vaccinated. It is only when one crew member and, that too someone who works at the back of the house, showed mild symptoms on board last Sunday," Jurgen Bailom- CEO and President, Waterways Leisure Tourism said in a statement.
Stating that the particular crew was "immediately isolated" and all guests and crew had to undergo tests again, he said, the results of those tests showed that a few guests and one crew member onboard tested positive.
"I reiterate that the crew member who showed mild symptoms did so very close to departure and was immediately and safely isolated. This means that the crew member was not exposed to anyone or vice versa for over 15 hours," Bailom said.
According to the company, the crew has been fully vaccinated and had undergone RT-PCR tests before they commenced their duties. They stay strictly onboard for the duration of their contract period which lasts 4-6 months, without leaving the ship as per COVID standard operating procedures, it said.
The company also said that ever since its cruise set sail in September 2021 with 1,400 guests on board, all crew members as well as guests have had to undertake RT-PCR test which is no more than 48 hours prior to boarding. The RT-PCR is mandatory as is being doubly vaccinated for both the crew as well as all guests on board, it stated.
"In simple terms, even if one is double vaccinated, one has to undergo the RT-PCR test. Such conditions are more onerous than operation of domestic flights in India, yet we adhere to the same by going above and beyond," said Bailom.
"I would also like to bring to light that Cordelia Cruises has had the same crew since September 2021. The crew resides on the cruise. They have never been on land ever since they started work as per the directions of the DG Shipping," he said. He highlighted Cordelia Cruises' "exemplary proactiveness" in conducting the rapid antigen test and very responsibly informing the concerned authorities of the incident.
"One may hence mindfully arrive at the conjecture that the guests who have tested positive as of this morning were already infected with the virus prior to boarding. However, their tests showed otherwise hence they were permitted on board."
"Our cruise and management have not only cooperated wholly with the authorities but also borne every single additional expenditure including testing of all guests, transporting them and so on. It was disheartening to witness lack of empathy on the part of the authorities for neither allowing local residents nor tourists to disembark," he alleged.
The cruise, however, will be bringing them back to Mumbai and scheduling their flights back to Goa, he added. The company also alleged that there were no officials present at the port at the time of this incident and that the cruise was merely receiving "haphazard instructions" from the collector.