Hurtigruten faces potential problems, due to alleged cases of COVID-19 being reported emanating from the expedition cruise ship ‘Roald Amundsen’ after she berthed at Tromso in late July.
Initial Norwegian investigations have uncovered issues, which could give rise to legal action against the company and some of its employees, local media reported, including state broadcaster, NRK.
This stems from the discovery that a passenger on board the ‘Roald Amundsen’ had tested positive for the virus after disembarking from a cruise the previous week. Health officials allegedly warned the company and believed that Hurtigruten would pass on the warning to the ship’s passengers and crew, as well as implement precautions.
Instead, it was alleged that passengers were allowed to disembark two days later at Tromso before Hurtigruten issued a statement, which at the time said only four crew members had been isolated after reporting feeling unwell.
Admitting the number of virus cases tied to the expedition cruise ship was rising, the company’s CEO made a public apology and promised an investigation. A Hurtigruten board member and the COO were asked to resign from their positions.
Norwegian health officials and the police launched investigations into the situation, as the reports surfaced in the Norwegian media of Hurtigruten’s alleged efforts to delay the announcements.
NRK has also reported that one of Norway’s medical officers in the Tromso area has launched a further investigation into the situation. Among the issues being explored, are the qualifications of the two doctors and nurses working on board the cruise ship.
In addition to a Norwegian doctor who primarily attended to passengers, the ship had a Filipino doctor and two Filipina nurses who primarily cared for the Filipino crew members. According to the broadcaster, the authorities are investigating if they had authorisation to practice medicine in Norway and had completed the required COVID-19 related training. A Hurtigruten spokesperson told NRK that they were operating under international maritime law.
Norwegian police, according to the newspaper ‘Dagens Næringsliv’ are now reviewing the company’s internal communications and emails including contact with the ship. Hurtigruten has retained lawyers and stopped issuing public statements.
All of Its expedition cruise ships are laid up but the coastal service is continuing, as it is considered a vital service along the Norwegian Coast, the media claimed.