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17 Jun, 2021 16:55

CDC says only fully vaccinated people should take cruise ship trips, but eases Covid warning level on sector

CDC says only fully vaccinated people should take cruise ship trips, but eases Covid warning level on sector

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lowered its warning for cruise ship travelers from the fourth – the highest – to the third level, but still advised those who aren’t fully vaccinated to avoid such trips.

The CDC had raised the coronavirus warning level for cruise ships to “very high” in November 2020, and it remained unchanged until Wednesday when the agency reduced it to “high” or Level Three.

The agency also issued a warning for would-be passengers who aren’t fully vaccinated, saying they should “avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide”.

“Since the virus spreads more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, the chance of getting Covid-19 on cruise ships is high,” the agency explained, noting that “outbreaks of Covid-19 have been reported” on such vessels during the pandemic.

All passengers should undergo Covid testing before and after their cruise, with unvaccinated people also told to self-isolate for a week after returning home even if they tested negative. Without a coronavirus test, that quarantine should be extended to 10 days, the CDC said.

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American cruise operators are getting ready to set sail by the end of June after more than a year-long break caused by Covid-19. However, only those ships which are approved by the CDC will be able to leave port.

These liners also have to perform the so-called ‘test cruises’ first, which involve going on a shortened journey with unpaid volunteer passengers to prove the voyages can meet safety regulations.

The US authorities aren’t demanding cruise passengers be vaccinated, though, with the decision ultimately to be made separately by each operator, or even a specific vessel.

According to CDC data published by The New York Times, more than a hundred cruise ships in the US had coronavirus outbreaks, with more than 3,000 passengers and crew members infected.

Earlier this week, major cruise operator Royal Caribbean International was forced to delay the inaugural trip of its Odyssey of the Seas vessel from July 3 to July 31 after eight out of the 1,400 crew members tested positive for Covid-19.

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British cruise ship Diamond Princess became one of the early grim symbols of the pandemic. In January 2020, the ship accounted for over half of the cases of the disease registered outside mainland China at that time. Some 712 people out of 3,711 aboard ended up being infected and 14 of them – all passengers – died.

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