Passenger on Paul Gauguin ship tests positive for Covid

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The Paul Gauguin ship in French Polynesia.
The Paul Gauguin ship in French Polynesia.

A passenger onboard the Paul Gauguin cruise ship in Tahiti tested positive for Covid-19 this weekend, just four days into the first cruise the line launched with international passengers since the global cruise shutdown.

The 332-passenger ship immediately cut short its French Polynesia cruise and returned to its home-base of Papeete.

According to the High Commission of the French Republic in French Polynesia, all other passengers and crew are now isolated in cabins onboard the ship awaiting test results.

Paul Gauguin confirmed the case and said that as a precautionary measure and in accordance with company protocol, all passengers and crew have been placed in isolation. The line is working to arrange their disembarkation.

The company said that the passenger had tested negative before departing from the U.S. and then tested positive on Aug. 1 while onboard. French Polynesia requires two tests of all foreigners: the first, a maximum of three days prior to the international flight, and the second, four days after arrival.

Paul Gauguin said that the passenger is an asymptomatic 22-year-old woman traveling with her mother and was immediately taken care of by the medical team onboard and confined to a special cabin before being removed from the ship in Papeete.

The line said that the negative test results on everyone else who was tested "confirms the quality of the health protocols in force on board." Crewmembers will remain in quarantine onboard for seven days and all passengers and crew who have been onboard will be retested within seven days, the line said. 

The Commission said that the passenger tested positive four days after boarding the Paul Gauguin and was immediately removed from the ship and put in isolation along with a family member sharing the cabin, who has so far tested negative, as did other passengers and crew who were in close contact with the case.

The ship, owned by Ponant, launched its first cruises for residents of French Polynesia on July 18. It set sail with its first group of international travers on July 29, with health and safety protocols that include having to be tested for Covid-19 prior to boarding. Paul Gaugin and Ponant developed the protocols in collaboration with infectious disease specialists from Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Mediterranee Infection of Marseilles in France and the Battalion of Marine Firemen of Marseilles.

The Paul Gaugin case comes on the heels of a similar incident on Norwegian line Hurtigruten, where several crew members tested positive for Covid-19. The line canceled its expedition cruises until further notice.

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