The company will cease cruises on its expedition ships following a Covid-19 outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen, which is currently docked at Tromsø, where it arrived last week after a cruise to Artic archipelago Svalbard.
Of the 158 crew members on board, 36 are infected, Pal Jakobsen, media officer for the city of Tromsø, told AFP on Saturday. That total had increased to 40 after four passenger infections were confirmed, according to reports late on Sunday.
One person died of the virus on Friday night, bringing the Norway’s Covid-19 death toll to 256. It was the first coronavirus-related death in the country for two weeks.
In addition to the MS Roald Amundsen, two other ships — MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Spitsbergen – will now cancel planned operations.
Ferries operating by the company between Bergen and Kirkenes in the north of Norway are unaffected.
A review is to be conducted by the Hurtigruten into the MS Roald Amundsen outbreak. The first cases of coronavirus infection aboard the ship were reported on Friday.
“An initial assessment shows that there were failures in several of our internal procedures,” the company’s CEO Daniel Skjeldam told NRK.
Passengers affected by cancellations will be contacted from Monday
“This is a serious situation for everyone affected. We have not been good enough and we have made mistakes. On behalf of all of us at Hurtigruten, I am sorry for what has happened. We take full responsibility,” Skjeldam said.
The company was informed as early as Wednesday last week that a person who had sailed on board the MS Roald Amundsen to Svalbard between July 17th and 24th subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.
Health authority the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) recommended that Hurtigruten contact passengers as soon as possible, but that process did not take place for two days, NRK writes.
As many as 69 municipalities in Norway are affected by the outbreak, which relates to two voyages with MS Roald Amundsen: one from July 17th-24th and one from July 25th -31st. The two voyages had the same crew but different passengers.
Tromsø Municipality’s health care department director Margrethe Kristiansen said the municipality is now close to a complete picture of who was on board the two Hurtigruten voyages, according to NRK.