HONG KONG – Thousands of passengers were detained on a cruise ship in Hong Kong on Wednesday for a coronavirus test, health officials said, adding that nine passengers were connected to a recently formed omicron cluster and ordered the ship to return.
A government statement said the government forced the Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of Seas, which began sailing on a “nowhere cruise” on Sunday, to return early Wednesday.
Nine passengers were ordered to return to the ship after it was discovered that they were in close contact with an infected patient connected by a new omicron cluster.
The ship returned to Hong Kong on Wednesday morning and was stopped aboard while passengers waited for testing.
Royal Caribbean said in a statement that nine guests were immediately isolated and all tested negative and that the company was working closely with officials to enforce epidemic prevention policies and regulations.
Last week, Hong Kong authorities blocked several residential buildings associated with emerging omicron clusters in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus variant in the city.
The clusters emerged after several members of the Cathay Pacific crew broke the isolation rules and ate at restaurants and bars in the city before a positive test for the omicron option.
Royal Caribbean claims that guests on board a damaged ship will receive a 25 percent refund of their cruise price. The ship’s Thursday voyage was also canceled because the crew had to pass mandatory tests and these guests will receive a full refund.