CDC warns Americans to avoid cruise ships — even if they’re vaccinated

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US public-health officials are warning Americans against traveling on cruise ships even if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

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On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 4 notice regarding cruise travel – the highest level, which indicates very high COVID-19 levels. “Avoid cruise travel regardless of vaccination status,” the agency said in an advisory. “Even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 variants.”

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The agency noted that there has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among cruise passengers and crew and an increase in the number of ships under investigation since the emergence of the Omicron variant. As of Tuesday, there were 89 cruise ships with COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC. All three of those vessels were under CDC investigation, including ships operated by Carnival CCL,
-0.94%,
Royal Caribbean RCL,
-0.01%,
disney dis,
+0.89%,
Norwegian Cruise Line NCLH,
-1.51%
and Viking Cruises.

The situation prompted Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, to call on the CDC to temporarily halt cruises. “Cruises are repeating recent history as a petri dish of COVID infection,” Blumenthal said on Twitter.

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The CDC warned that the virus that causes COVID-19 can easily spread on board cruise liners as people live nearby. People who have been vaccinated were encouraged to get tested anywhere from one to three days before travel and anywhere from three to five days after, regardless of vaccination status. For non-vaccinated cruise passengers, the CDC advised that they should self-quarantine for five days after travel.

The Cruise Lines International Association described the CDC’s choice to increase travel levels as “particularly perplexing”.

“The cases identified on cruise ships consistently make up a very small minority of the total population – much less than on land – and the majority of those cases are asymptomatic or of a mild nature, which greatly impairs medical resources onboard or ashore. little or no burden,” the trade group said in a statement to the media.

The industry group has also emphasized a number of precautionary measures required by the CDC to prevent large outbreaks. In 2020, public-health officials around the world shut down cruise operations after several ships were set up for large outbreaks of COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic. In the US, cruise lines resumed operations in late June, and more than 100 ships have returned to US waters.

The Cruise Lines International Association notes that 95% of people aboard ships are vaccinated, and the industry conducts about 10 million COVID tests per week. The organization said it would continue to work with CDC in the future.

Prior to the new CDC advice, Royal Caribbean issued an update to investors, in which the company noted that it had experienced an increase in cancellations and a decline in bookings following the emergence of Omicron, but not to the same extent as happened with him. Delta version.

“Sailing for the second half of 2022 continues to be booked within historical range, with and without Future Cruise Credits (FCC) at higher prices, with strong demand from the critical US market,” the company said. .

At the same time, Royal Caribbean said it had to modify or cancel 29 of its 331 ports of call due to service disruptions related to COVID-19. The company noted that only 1,745 passengers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the cruise resumed in the US in June, representing 0.02% of the 1.1 million passengers in that period.

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