Oslo (AFP)

At least thirty-three crew members confined to a boat owned by the Norwegian company Hurtigruten, a specialist in expedition cruises, have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the company said on Saturday.

Of the 158 members on board the MS Roald Amundsen, "33 have tested positive for Covid-19, while 120 have tested negative," Hurtigruten said in a statement. Five people must be tested again.

On Friday, four of the ship's personnel - out of the 158 - had already tested positive for the virus and have since been hospitalized. They are "foreign nationals", according to the hospital.

"None of the 154 crew members still on board (...) show signs of illness or symptoms of the coronavirus", specifies Hurtigruten.

Arrived Friday morning at the port of Tromsø (north) from the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, the crew of the MS Roald Amundsen was quarantined on board the ship, after four members of the staff "were isolated several days ago. due to other symptoms of illness, without symptoms related to Covid-19, "the company said in a statement on Friday.

"There was no reason to suspect Covid-19 when the ship docked in Tromsø due to the symptoms that (they) were exhibiting," she continued.

The ship also had nearly 180 passengers who left on July 25. None reported symptoms related to Covid-19 during the trip according to the company. All were disembarked on their arrival on Friday but around sixty of them have since been quarantined in Tromsø, the company said on Saturday. Everyone is invited to quarantine and get tested.

In addition, more than 200 other passengers traveling from July 17 to 24 with the same crew according to local media were asked to follow the same recommendations after the discovery of a case in the passengers after the fact.

As of Friday, the Nordic country had 9,208 confirmed cases of infections with the new coronavirus.

One person died from the virus on Friday evening, bringing the death toll to 256. This is the first death linked to Covid-19 recorded in the kingdom for two weeks.

The disaster-stricken cruise sector had to give up a large part of its activity. Several liners from different shipowners were stranded in April and May for suspected or proven cases of coronavirus contamination.

Hurtigruten announced in March the suspension of almost all of its activities because of the pandemic.

© 2020 AFP