Passengers who travelled on a short cruise to Tallinn aboard Silja Line's Europa vessel last week may have been exposed to Covid-19. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, said in a statement on Monday that health officials have confirmed that several persons onboard later tested positive for novel coronavirus.
The cruise departed from Finland last Tuesday 30 June and returned on Wednesday 1 July. According to the THL statement one person with mild symptoms spent an extended time on the vessel in public spaces and may have exposed passengers to the virus.
"We have identified two families that have been exposed and contacted. The infected person moved around so extensively on the vessel that we have not been able to identify all of their contacts," Helsinki health centres medical chief Timo Lukkarinen said.
Lukkarinen added that only the people who have been contacted about possible exposure will be asked to quarantine. However he said that he hoped passengers would readily seek medical assistance if they develop symptoms.
"These two families that are now in quarantine had been in very close contact with the infected person," he noted.
Calls to report symptoms
There is no precise information about the number of passengers who travelled on the cruise and according to Lukkarinen, the infected person was not able to estimate how many people they may have come into contact with. However he said that it is clear that not everyone on board was exposed.
"The person had apparently visited the nightclub at least. Exposure might have occurred at other public places they visited," he noted, adding that so far no additional infections had been reported from the ship.
The public health agency said that several others who had been on the same vessel later tested positive for the disease. It added that these persons said that they had avoided moving about in crowded areas, limiting close contact and potential exposure of others. THL also said this made it easier to trace the contacts and to place them in quarantine.
The THL is calling on passengers who travelled on the cruise to check for possible symptoms of infection, even if mild, and to report to health authorities if needed. It listed symptoms as a fever and/or a cough and/or difficulty breathing.
The agency said that the risk of contracting the disease remained low in cases where passengers did not come into close contact with infected persons.