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(Illustration courtesy of Filter Nyheter)
Editor’s note: The following is inspired by, expands on and updates an article by NRK with our own reporting, plus other global media. It summarizes the growing list of controversies surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak aboard Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen during two week-long voyages in Svalbard in July. The outbreak was publicly announced when the ship docked in Tromsø on July 31, but company officials knew about the problem two days earlier and attempted to cover it up. Furthermore, nearly all aspects of the outbreak from ignoring crew concerns about safety precautions to lack of cooperation with health authorities to allowing infected passengers off the ship unmonitored have come to light. A week after the initial reports, at least 41 crew members and 21 passengers are infected with the virus.
1. Employees from the Philippines went straight to work instead of mandatory quarantine
Most of infected crew members infected are from the Philippines. Under Norwegian COVID-19 regulations they should have been quarantined for 10 days upon entering the country. Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said the workers were tested twice for the virus in their home country before departing and “international rules are such that they are quarantined on board the ship after arrival. That quarantine means that you can participate in working on board, but not go ashore.” But experts on laws and regulations at sea say Skjeldam’s interpretation is wrong.