The Council can confirm there were a small number of positive cases of COVID-19 on board two cruise liners that visited Kirkwall yesterday, Monday 20 September.
These included four passengers on board the Marella Explorer 2 which was at anchor in Kirkwall, and one passenger from the Celebrity Silhouette, which called alongside Hatston Pier.
An elderly male was transferred by ambulance to the Balfour Hospital at the request of the ship and in agreement with NHS Orkney. Four females had mild to no symptoms and were being isolated on board in designated cabins. All known close contacts were also isolated on board the vessels and enhanced sanitisation procedures were in place.
Passenger numbers on board both vessels remain limited to allow for ease of social distancing.
Head of Marine Services, Transportation and Harbour Master Jim Buck said:
“We have played host to 23 ships since the resumption of the cruise industry in July, including many thousands of passengers and crew, and there have only been a handful of confirmed cases during this time. These isolated incidents have been contained very quickly without further spread, so the procedures in place by both the vessels and the Port side have worked well.
“No one can ever guarantee a situation can be 100 per cent secure, particularly when dealing with a virus that has an incubation period, however, we are confident that the measures which are in place have done as they were designed to do.
“With the lifting of many restrictions, we have all been aware of the ongoing spike in cases throughout Scotland – Orkney has also experienced this, although, thankfully, to a much lesser degree. The virus remains within our own communities and we saw recently with the clusters in a few of our larger schools and the wider community how easy it is for this to spread. The immediate actions of NHS Orkney Public Health and the Education Service – alongside the public – also demonstrated how quickly it is possible to react and get on top of a situation and everyone is to be commended for that.
“Cruise travellers are subject to much tighter regulations than most others – they must be double vaccinated if eligible, a negative COVID test is required before boarding, regular onboard testing is also required by some, alongside reduced numbers, social distancing, the wearing of masks in communal areas other than if seated and eating or drinking, temperature checks – the list is fairly extensive. Yes, there have been a very small number of positive cases, but these have been contained extremely quickly and have not led to further spread.”
Public Health in Orkney provided key guidance, support and advice.
In line with the current guidance, passengers and crew who were not close contacts of the positive cases and showed no symptoms could leave the vessel and enjoy what Orkney has to offer, however, Mr Buck emphasised:
“The passengers were reminded of their responsibilities when moving around. If a vessel is at anchor the tenders that are used are also carrying passengers at reduced capacity and face coverings must be worn. Bus operators are also carrying out enhanced cleaning of the vehicles between usage. All mitigations are in place to try and reduce the transmission of the virus.
“We must all remember that no one sets out to catch or spread this virus. Our thoughts are with the elderly gentleman who has required hospitalisation and we wish him a speedy recovery.”
Cruise vessels operate with COVID-19 Management Plans which include all mitigations in place and requirements for passengers such as being double vaccinated when eligible, and negative COVID tests ahead of boarding.
The Orkney News will bring you more on this story as details unfold. Meanwhile our best wishes go to all those concerned, stay safe.
Mr Pass the Buck saying ……”there have only been a handful of confirmed cases during this time.” ……… Like a few cases don’t really count!!!
THEY DO!!!! Every single one is an unwell person, with people who care that they are unwell.
I must admit it beats me why folk have signed up for these cruises with the world as it is – their choice, but – why ?
Mr Pass the Buck also says…..
“The virus remains within our own communities and we saw recently with the clusters in a few of our larger schools and the wider community how easy it is for this to spread.”
There is a big difference between it being here – and Orkney dealing with the situation – and actually bringing it here.
You know that, Mr Buck – you know that well.
Mr Buck should know that each single case which may have to be admitted to hospital adds to a risk of infecting health care workers or other patients. Is this something our region with limited services should accept for a few ‘bucks’?
I would probably be far less concerned if the count(r)y had finally realised that what is tolerated here as a ‘face covering’ does not meet the standards elsewhere. Far less restrictions on businesses were needed for example in Germany because of the mandatory use of FFP2 masks.
Austria has only this week returned to the mandatory use of FFP2 masks and their daily case numbers are around 2,500.
It would also interest me what Mr Buck thinks is deep cleaning of buses. Fomites are currently not the problem. The issue is aerosol concentration. I have my doubts whether the type of deep clean will appropriately address this issue.
As the example of the face coverings shows, not all suitable mitigation measures are in place.
At what point was it acceptable to let anyone else off the ship when they knew they had a patient I’ll enough to need hospital treatment. The virus has an incubation period like any other virus.
Meanwhile people working in the tourist industry are helping to marshal groups of 30 in indoor venues which are far too right for space.
Well done OIC… take some responsibility for the welfare of this population, as our case numbers increase, or are you with Boris when he says “ let the bodies pile up”
we are a tiny community , who can not withstand Covid being freely introduced into our midst. If a liner had any Covid positive passengers why, were others allowed to disembark to freely roam around orkney visiting tourist sites and mingling with locals . This is not a virus you can take risks with , we have an ageing population, who are vulnerable. The vaccine is not the holy grail. It’s bad enough our health services having to manage local outbreaks without further pressure . OIC May this week be able to say this has been achieved safely . But Covid has an incubation period ,Treat Covid like the disease it is , quarantine does work ! And we who live here , why do we not matter ! I think I remember last year we all quarantined in,our homes during lockdown , went without , financially suffered, denied physical contact with our loved ones, we all did everything we could, to save our community, protect our vulnerable .OIC shame on you, you can’t even simply say, No, take control, demand passengers to stay on board , not to disembark, simply lead by saying , we at OIC pride ourself by putting our community first and will not take any risks. And if your school buses break down this week as often happens, will you replace it with a tourist coach? This is madness , absolute madness , please , start putting us first , Remember us we live here,We matter too
I agree with everything you have said Anna. I think that we are being hung out to dry by our own council who have shown that frankly they only care about the harbour dues they are collecting and certainly not this community. Their platitudes do nothing to alter the situation that they are willing to allow us to bear the risk of cruise passengers spreading the virus around our Island. That attitude shows the true contempt in which we are held. Our council should be ashamed of themselves.