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60 River Cruise Passengers Contract COVID-19

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Swiss Crystal (file image courtesy Scylla Cruises)

By The Maritime Executive 10-28-2020 09:09:48

About 60 former passengers from a themed cruise aboard the river cruise ship Swiss Crystal have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the voyage's organizers. 

92 passengers were on board for the trip, and the majority have returned a positive test result. Organizer Hanspeter Balsiger - who was among those who caught the disease - told local outlet Blick that standard precautions were taken before and during the voyage. 

The itinerary in question was a folk-music themed cruise on the Main and the Danube, and it featured hours of singing in enclosed spaces - including yodelling. Passenger Daniel Kissling told Blick that while social distancing was maintained, mask wearing was not uniformly observed during the music-making. 

Public health experts have previously identified group singing events (like church choirs) as high-risk activity due to the potential for droplet and aerosol spread. In one superspreader event which CDC researchers published as a case study, as many as 52 out of 61 attendees at a choir practice likely contracted COVID-19 from one asymptomatic participant. 

Germany renews its lockdown

After a long lull, COVID-19 case counts are rising in Northern Europe again. On Wednesday, Germany and France announced another round of nationwide lockdowns to address a rapid expansion in hospitalizations and cases. The number of patients in Germany's intensive care units has doubled within the past 10 days. 

“We no longer have control of the spread of the virus,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference Wednesday. “If the tempo of infections stays the same, we will reach the capacity of our health-care system within weeks."

Beginning Monday, clubs, restaurants and bars will close across Germany, and social gatherings will be limited to a maximum of two households and 10 participants. Unlike the lockdown that the German government instituted earlier this year, schools and a range of non-essential businesses will be allowed to remain open.