Medical Technology

More Cruise Ships Under CDC Investigation Due to COVID Cases

MIAMI (AP) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating more cruise ships because of new cases of COVID-19, as the omicron variant is responsible for extremely high infection levels in the industry hub of Florida.

The CDC declared that the vessels are currently under investigation or observation however it did not say how many cases of COVID-19 have been reported. Four other vessels are also being monitored by the CDC in addition.

Florida set a new record for daily cases on Tuesday with 46,900 cases added in a day. The average daily count of cases for the 7 days after Christmas has increased to 29,400 infections, beating previous records set last summer.

The number of Coronavirus hospitalizations in the state has increased from about 1,200 patients two weeks ago to around 3,400 on Wednesday. But that is still less than one-fifth the number of hospitalizations reported in the latter part of August because of the delta wave.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling for the CDC and cruise lines to stop cruise travel, six months after the industry made its comeback.

“Our warnings have proved to be incredibly accurate, and convincing.” Time for CDC and cruise lines to safeguard consumers to pause again — docking their ships,” the Connecticut senator posted on Twitter.

Cruise lines haven’t made any plans to halt cruising. The CDC did not say it would make any changes. However, it indicated that it still had plans to allow cruise ships to adhere to a set of rules to sail during the pandemic. The rule, referred to as an order for sailing with a conditional status, is set to expire on Jan. 15 and will be a voluntary program.

“CDC acknowledges that it isn’t possible for cruising to be a zero-risk activity,” CDC spokesperson Jasmine Reed said in an emailed statement.

Adult passengers need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Cruise ships are allowed to allow for a softer approach to mask use if 95 percent of passengers and the crew are fully vaccine-free.

The federal agency recommends that people avoid cruise travel in cases of increased risk of contracting severe illness, regardless of their vaccination status.

None of the ships to date appear to have such a large number of cases that they would overwhelm medical facilities on board and require returning to port. But some have been refused entry to certain ports in the world.

A number of Florida-based ships have reported outbreaks. Unknown numbers of crew and passengers contracted the virus The Carnival Freedom was refused entry to Aruba or Bonaire.

Certain cruise ships haven’t been allowed to embark in Mexican ports due to the number of cases being reported, which brought to mind the early days of the pandemic, when cruise lines had to negotiate docking plans when ships were denied entry by officials concerned about the spread of the virus.

The Mexican government announced on Tuesday that it will allow cruise ships with confirmed coronavirus cases to dock. According to the Mexican Health Department, passengers and crew members who are not suffering from symptoms will be able to arrive at the shore in a normal manner. Those with symptoms or positive virus tests will be quarantined or provided medical care.

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