There have been two positive COVID-19 tests on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.
CNN reported on Wednesday that the two were on board the MSC Seaside cruise ship and disembarked with their families in Syracuse, Sicily. Both passengers were asymptomatic.
The cruise ship had previously docked in Malta, but passengers were prohibited from disembarking because the ship only made a “technical” call, according to the cruise operator, which refused to reveal the nationalities or the total number of passengers on board.
Passengers travelling with MSC must have a COVID-19 test 96 hours before departure, another when they embark, and a third during the cruise. MSC does not require passengers to be vaccinated, but the rules apply to those who have been.
Guests onboard are required to wear masks in public spaces and social distance.
According to MSC spokesperson Michele Curatolo, “Our protocol is working, because if these two folks weren’t on board, they would still be circulating freely.”
The company has a contingency plan for each port of call, added Cuartolo, which meant that a “protective transfer was immediately activated” for the two passengers who tested positive.
Luca Biondolillo, chief communications officer of MSC Cruise, said that three of the company’s vessels are currently at sea, a number due to increase to eight by August.
MSC Cruises was the first major cruise line to resume sailing in Europe after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic subsided in August 2020.
The cruise line has been offering Italian sailings on and off since then, and recently launched its first U.K. cruise in over a year.
Cruisers who had planned to depart from the United States have had to postpone their plans due to the pandemic, however, there is some hope.
Several cruise lines are expected to begin sailing from U.S. ports within the next month, nearly 15 months after the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order. brought cruises to a halt.
There are still a number of ships awaiting CDC approval to sail. The agency has released a series of evolving requirements and guidelines in the form of a Conditional Sailing Order since October last year.