US health authorities have warned people not to travel on cruise ships, even if they have been vaccinated against Covid-19. This is in light of the recent outbreak of the Omicron variant on certain vessels. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) said it has more than 90 cruise ships under investigation or observation because they have recorded cases of Covid-19. The number of infected people was not released.
More than 90 ships are in the yellow category, which indicates that the volume of Covid cases reported has met the CDC’s threshold for investigation. Green, orange, yellow and red, are the indicators of a ship’s Covid situation, from best to worst respectively. Gray is reserved for ships that the CDC has not reviewed.
The CDC raised the travel risk level for cruise travel from Level 3 to Level 4, indicating the risk for Covid-19 is “very high. According to CNN, at least four cruises were prohibited from letting passengers disembark in the Americas in early January because of Covid-19 cases aboard.
The virus that causes Covid-19 spreads easily among people in enclosed spaces aboard ships. The likelihood of acquiring the virus on cruise ships is very high, even if people are fully vaccinated and have received a booster.US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Cruise Lines International Association said it was disappointed in the new recommendations, saying the industry is being singled out even though it follows stricter health protocols than other tourism sectors. The decision “is especially disconcerting considering that cases identified on cruise ships invariably constitute a very small minority of the total onboard population,” the association said in a statement. “Most of these cases are asymptomatic or mild, and represent little or no burden to medical resources on board or ashore.”
In March 2020, as the coronavirus took hold in the United States, the CDC suspended all cruises, a period that extended 15 months. Last June, they authorized these ships to sail again under strict new health conditions.
The CDC has also recommended that cruise ship passengers undergo a diagnostic test and comply with a five-day quarantine after docking, regardless of their vaccination status and even if they have no symptoms.
The Omicron variant has caused a spike in infections in the United States. One example is the the state of Florida, the center of the country’s cruise industry. Last month, the state registered another record number of new cases per day: more than 58,000 on Wednesday, December 29th. US cruise lines have not announced plans to suspend travel, even as their ships have been denied entry at some overseas ports.