Cruise Ship Coronavirus Outbreak Was False Alarm As Staff Tests Come Back Negative

All 12 crew members on a cruise ship in Greece who tested positive for the coronavirus have since had negative results.

Routine tests were performed on 150 out of 666 members of staff from the Mein Schiff 6 vessel operated by Tui Cruises, with 12 coming back positive on Monday.

Since then, two additional rounds of COVID-19 tests have come back with negative results, Tui Cruises said in a statement on Tuesday. What are known as "PCR tests" were performed by Tui Cruises and antigen tests that pick up the virus' proteins were performed by the Greek authorities. The results of a further PCR test by the Greek authorities are expected on Tuesday.

The 12 suspected to be infected, as well as 24 crew members in close contact, were "immediately isolated" on board on Monday. Antigen tests on the 24 by the Greek authorities have come back negative, but the individuals will remain isolated until final results are available.

The vessel set off from Heraklion, the capital of the Greek island of Crete, on Sunday evening, and is headed for the port of Piraeus near the Greek capital of Athens, followed by the island of Corfu, according to Greece's Shipping Ministry. The ship was moored off the island of Milos, in the Aegean Sea, on Monday.

The cruise is due to continue as planned after the Greek authorities give their approval, Tui Cruises said. Excursions for guests planned for Piraeus on Tuesday were due to be rescheduled for Wednesday.

The cruise is the first to take place in Greece after a lockdown was put in place in March. Tui Cruises crew members are expected to isolate for 14 days before starting work, and are regularly screened for the coronavirus.

The Greek health authorities said on Monday the 922 passengers tested negative for the coronavirus before boarding the ship, while the 12 crew members who originally tested positive did not show symptoms and had a "low viral load."

Tui Cruise said in a statement on Tuesday: "Thanks to the extensive hygiene measures and clearance rules on board, there is no reason for guests and crew to worry." Tests on guests were deemed unnecessary as none were affected or were in close contact with the crew suspected to be infected.

"Existing structures and already very strict measures to prevent the spread of viral diseases have been further tightened and adapted to the current situation," Tui Cruises said.

All of the 922 passengers were confined to their cabins during the journey, according to local media. However Sabine Lueke, a spokesperson for Tui, denied this, telling Newsweek: "The guests never had to stay in their cabins. They could still use all public areas."

This article has been updated with comment from Sabine Lueke.

tui cruise, mein schiff, coronavirus, covid19, getty
The cruise ship 'Mein Schiff 3', not involved in the Mein Schiff 6 coronavirus testing but also operated by TUI, is seen at its dock in the harbour of the northern German city of Cuxhaven, on May 2, 2020 MORRIS MAC MATZEN/AFP via Getty Images