Covid on cruise ships

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Original blog post on Covid on cruise ships
Blog post two days ago

Cruise ship outbreaks shrouded in secrecy? Yahoo News three days ago reported on figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which offer the first publicly available look at how many coronavirus cases have been discovered on cruise ships in the United States following an industry-wide shutdown throughout the pandemic. No figures are available for European cruises at the moment, and those operating from the UK. However, despite cruise lines’ efforts to impose strict public health rules, COVID-19 appears to have found its way back on board – certainly in the US, and as reported here two days ago, potentially in Madeira.

According to the CDC data, US cruise operators confirmed 1,359 cases between June 26 and Oct. 21, a roughly four-month period that was hailed as a rebound for the cruise industry. Many of those involved “breakthrough infections” of people who were fully vaccinated. During that time, operators reported 49 hospitalisations and 38 medical evacuations for COVID-19 or similarly diagnosed illnesses. At least one person died after testing positive during a cruise.

Cruise ship procedures not working

As the US government allowed cruise ships to resume activity with some restrictions, ships added vaccine requirements, testing rules, capacity limits and mask mandates, similar to those implemented by EU operators. Cruise lines have acknowledged positive cases over the past few months, but the full scope was not previously known. The CDC included the numbers in its extension of a “conditional sail order” that outlines operating rules for cruise lines during the pandemic; that order will shift from mandatory to voluntary on Jan. 15.

In making the case to extend the order beyond a Nov. 1 expiration date, CDC director Rochelle Walensky wrote that “despite the best efforts of cruise ship operators to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew and passengers”, outbreaks had continued. Cruise ships kept sailing in the Caribbean, even as signs of sickness spread

The document provides several examples, mostly involving breakthrough cases, including one in which an asymptomatic passenger who tested positive on a ship in late July was linked to 20 more confirmed cases over two sailings. In that case, 18 service workers and two passengers were infected. One ship reported 58 positive cases between July 24 and Aug. 28, and another reported 105 confirmed cases on four back-to-back trips between Aug. 19 and Sept. 7. One reported 112 cases on four voyages between Aug. 21 and Sept. 7.

COVID-19 in Madeira: daily updates can be found in an earlier post

Travel latest: requirements for entering and leaving Madeira: is kept up-to-date on a previous post

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