Just yesterday, news broke out that the Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas "Cruise To Nowhere" had turned back to Singapore after a passenger aboard initially tested positive for COVID-19. The cruise was supposed to set sail for 4D3N but had to turn back a day ahead of schedule. Even though the passenger has since tested negative for the virus (after multiple tests), the incident shows us that Singapore has put in place effective protocols. So, what does this mean for the future of travel in Singapore?
Credit: Royal Caribbean International on Facebook
Effective response to the situation
Right after the passenger was tested positive for COVID-19, the Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas immediately activated its safety protocol which included isolating the passenger and identifying close contacts for tests and contact tracing. All activities onboard were also stopped and other passengers were told to stay in their rooms. They were also updated regularly and had to take a COVID-19 test after disembarking from the cruise. Passengers have also been told to monitor their health and after 14 days, they will have to do another test.
P.S. Here's a guide to taking the COVID-19 PCR test in Singapore!
Paving the way forward for the reopening of travel in future
Both Royal Caribbean and the government had worked together to come up with this protocol and according to both parties, this incident has shown how effective it is. Even though this incident was a false positive, the series of protocols were followed to minimise any risk as much as possible.
Currently, before sailing, cruise companies need to ensure that all passengers undergo mandatory testing before boarding. While sailing, they will also have to go through another test. All passengers will also need to use TraceTogether and CCTVs will be used for contact tracing.
The effectiveness of handling the Royal Caribbean case shows that similar protocols can also be applied to other forms of travel. If anything, this paves the way for travelling in future. The same procedures can be implemented for flights, trains and buses, both for travelling in Singapore and around the region.
Other cruises have set sail since the incident
Although Royal Caribbean has suspended its cruise and will only resume its service on 14 Dec, other companies like the World Dream Cruise have set sail as scheduled. They had also done so with stringent health and hygiene protocols.
More than anything, this is a realisation that travelling will resume even with COVID-19. There will be hiccups along the way, like the Royal Caribbean incident and the suspended Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble. But as long as strict safety guidelines are in place and adhered to, there is hope for the safe reopening of travel in future. We're confident that it won't be long before we can travel (safely) again ?
P.S. Singapore's also hoping to launch travel bubbles with more countries in future. Read about them here!