What should be a stylish and party-packed one New Years Eve celebration on board the luxurious MSC Splendida Cruise ship in Brazil quickly turned into a COVID nightmare in which, according to cruise line MSC Cruises, around 80 passengers and crew members tested positive for the virus during and immediately after the trip.
MSC Splendida left the Brazilian port of Santos on December 26 and returned to the same port on New Years Day to drop off all 130 passengers, including guests confirmed to be infected COVID-19. The ship should make several stops south of. do Brazil, but following news of the outbreak, most of the 7-day cruise was docked in Santos port after spending New Year’s Eve at sea.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Juliana Ribeiro, a businessman from São Paulo who was the passenger on the ship, said that it was only until the 28th announcement that 14 people had tested positive for the virus.
Apparently, that was not enough to justify a ship-wide lockdown for COVID-infected passengers.
“We were in Balneário Camboriú. ported [on the 28th], and we knew something was going on because we saw people in [Hazmat suits] walking around, ”Ribeiro, who tested positive for the virus just days after leaving the ship, told The Daily Beast. “When we returned to Port of Santos, they announced that 14 people were infected. But the activity on the ship went on as if nothing happened … They kept announcing that more people had tested positive, but they didn’t give any specific numbers. “
“You said there were few cases but there were many.”
Ribeiro added that passengers were allowed to move freely around the ship throughout the voyage. “Pools, bars, casinos. Everything remained open, ”he said.
In conversation with the Brazilian news agency O Globo, A pregnant woman who had boarded the ship with her husband said, “The elevators were always full … The crowd was terrifying. Protocols were not followed and there was a lack of sanitary gel and masks on board. “Another passenger told the point of sale that the situation” is completely out of control … They said there were few cases but there were many “.
According to Ribeiro and other passengers who spoke to Ö Globo, cruise officials were slow to provide updates on the severity of the outbreak and only gave general updates showing more passengers testing positive after the initial announcement of 14 infections.
“We’d just see it on TV later. At times the news channels were no longer on the [ship’s] TV, ”said Ribeiro. “Passengers sent clips over their phones to news agencies because they cut out all outside news on the ship.”
In a statement to Ö Globo, MSC Cruises, which had requested guests to submit a negative COVID test within 24 hours of departure, said: “As part of our health monitoring routine, which includes regular daily tests of 10 percent of all guests and crew on the ship we identified: limited number of COVID-19 cases among guests and crew of MSC Splendida. According to the protocol, we immediately isolated these people and their close contacts in a separate section of the ship, away from all other passengers. “
Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) too published a statement “Those who test positive must continue their quarantine on land and are monitored by the strategic health surveillance information centers”.
The incident on the MSC Splendida caused ANVISA to temporarily suspend cruises across the country starting Monday.
Despite the virus fiasco, Ribeiro, who got married on an MSC ship, said he would remain “loyal” to the cruise line. “The problem is not the cruise lines, but the Brazilians who would not wear masks if they were required to,” he said. “I’ve been on this cruise line many times … you haven’t lost a customer because of it.”
According to O Globo, COVID cases in Brazil have increased 118 percent in the past two weeks, likely due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.