Hurtigruten CEO Apologizes for ‘Weakness’ in COVID-19 Protocols

Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam has publicly apologized and assumed full responsibility for what he termed “weaknesses in several of our internal procedures,” which resulted in an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the MS Roald Amundsen, discovered on July 31.

Thus far, 41 people—four passengers and 36 crew members—have tested positive after being evacuated from the ship to quarantine accommodations in Tromso, Norway, reported Travel Weekly. Hurtigruten’s three ships had only just resumed operations in July under limited capacity and strict hygiene measures, but all sailings have again been suspended in light of this latest incident.

“A preliminary evaluation shows that there have been weaknesses in several of our internal procedures,” Skjeldam told the Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on August 3. “This is a serious situation for everyone affected. We haven’t been good enough, and we have made mistakes. On behalf of all of us working at Hurtigruten, I’m sorry for what has happened. We are taking full responsibility.”

Skjeldam also said that the company is investigating the events that led up to the confirmation that the COVID-19 virus first appeared among the ship’s crew. He said Hurtigruten is, “now focusing all available efforts (on) taking care of our guests and colleagues. We are working closely with the Norwegian national and local health authorities for follow-up, information, further testing and infection tracking.”

Norwegian reports said that over 400 passengers who had sailed aboard one of the MS Roald Amundsen’s two previous week-long itineraries, traveling from Tromso to Svalbard, may have been impacted, as well as 160 crew members, who mostly come from the Philippines. Passengers of those two cruises have since been contacted and advised to self-isolate.

Reportedly, Hurtigruten made the mistake of COVID-19-testing its Filipino employees before they departed the Philippines but failing to do so again upon their arrival in Norway.

NRK reported that health officials in the northern town of Hadsel had informed the cruise line that one of its residents had tested positive for coronavirus and that they suspected his infection to be linked to his having been aboard two Hurtigruten ships, the MS Roald Amundsen and the MS Trollfjord. Representatives for Hurtigruten apparently told local authorities that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the theory that the Hadsel man had contracted the virus onboard one of its vessels.

Still, Hurtigruten was encouraged to warn all of its passengers of the possibility of COVID-19 having been on board straight away, with one of its own ship’s doctors willing to make the information public, but the carrier decided against it.

It has now been 19 days since the aforementioned Hadsel resident left the Trollfjord to board the Roald Amundsen, and no indications have arisen that any others among Trollfjord’s passengers or crew contracted COVID-19.

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