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Festive bug strikes Hjaltland crew

PASSENGERS boarding the NorthLink ferry Hjaltland in Lerwick, Kirkwall and Aberdeen are being issued a warning letter about a sickness bug on board the vessel.

Over the Christmas and New Year festive period about 16 crew members have come down with “a sickness and diarrhoea type bug”, confining them to their cabin for around 24 hours until its effects have worn off.

The environmental health authorities were immediately notified when the outbreak first appeared, but said it was not necessary to cancel any sailings.

However since 28 December NorthLink has been issuing passengers with a warning letter offering them a full fare refund or an alternative sailing.

The spokesman said that hundreds of passengers had travelled since the outbreak and no one had declined to travel.

“It became clear that the bug wasn’t ‘festivities related’,” the spokesman said on Wednesday.

“Throughout this period the entire boat, while berthed has been clinically ‘deep cleaned’ as per advice of health authorities.

“We’ve had one more crew member become ill over the last 36 hours so the bug hasn’t completely gone yet and the letters will continue to be issued until we’re satisfied that it has gone completely.”

The company apologised for any inconvenience caused to passengers.

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