Mr Ang Wei Neng: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) what are the learning points from the false positive COVID-19 incident on board the Royal Caribbean cruise on 9 December 2020; and (b) whether the Ministry supports plans to allow more cruise ships to ply through Singapore’s ports.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade & Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing
1. The suspected COVID-19 case onboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas provided an opportunity for government agencies and the cruise line to test and refine the stringent emergency protocols that were put in place as part of STB’s CruiseSafe certification. Particularly useful protocols included cessation of all onboard activities, prompt isolation of suspected case and close contacts, the use of TraceTogether for effective contact tracing, and sending of test samples to National Public Health Laboratory for verification of results. Besides the prompt execution of emergency protocols, clear and timely communication with passengers by Royal Caribbean International also engendered confidence in how the situation was handled.
2. Key areas for improvement included the efficiency of processes such as retesting of samples and the debarkation of passengers. The government and cruise lines will continue to finetune the health protocols for cruises over time to ensure the health and safety of all cruise passengers.
3. We remain confident in the calibrated and safe approach taken in the resumption of the cruise sector. Pilot sailings commenced with strict safe management measures onboard, a reduced maximum capacity and no ports-of-call to mitigate risks. We will continue to monitor the findings from the sailings, as well as developments in the local and global COVID-19 situations, before determining the next steps for the cruise industry.