Thousands of people were detained aboard a cruise ship in Hong Kong for Covid testing.

Nine of the ship's passengers were close friends or relatives of an infected patient who had been linked to a recent Omicron cluster. As a result, all passengers have been confined aboard the ship for Covid-19 testing.
Hong Kong

Thousands of passengers were detained on a cruise ship in Hong Kong on Wednesday, January 5, for coronavirus testing after health officials linked nine passengers to a recent omicron cluster and ordered the ship to return.

According to a government statement, authorities forced Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas ship, which set sail on a "cruise to nowhere" on Sunday, to return a day early on Wednesday.

After nine passengers were identified as close contacts of an infected patient linked to a new omicron cluster, the ship was ordered to return.

On Wednesday morning, the ship arrived in Hong Kong, and passengers were held onboard pending tests.

The nine passengers were promptly segregated and tested negative, according to Royal Caribbean, which claimed it was working closely with authorities to comply with epidemic prevention policies and regulations.

Hong Kong officials have shut down seven residential buildings related to growing omicron clusters in an effort to stop the coronavirus strain from spreading throughout the city.

Several Cathay Pacific crew members disregarded isolation restrictions and dined at restaurants and bars in the city before testing positive for the omicron strain, resulting in the clusters.

Guests onboard the impacted ship will receive a 25% refund on their cruise cost, according to Royal Caribbean. The ship's Thursday departure has also been canceled due to obligatory tests for the crew, and those passengers will receive a full refund.