The US government is advising Americans, “particularly travellers with underlying health conditions”, to avoid taking cruises amid concerns surrounding coronavirus.
The US state department said the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “notes increased risk of infection of Covid-19 in a cruise ship environment”.
However the UK Foreign Office has not issued any such advice.
“This is a fluid situation. CDC notes that older adults and travellers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease,” the state department added.
“This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.
“Passengers with plans to travel by cruise ship should contact their cruise line companies directly for further information and continue to monitor the and see the latest information from the CDC.”
The comments came after 21 crew and passengers onboard Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess, off the coast of California, were confirmed as having tested positive for coronavirus.
The ship had been prevented from docking since Wednesday but was granted permission to disembark passengers from today (9 March) at Oakland.
A roundtable discussion on how to tackle the coronavirus situation was held between US vice-president Mike Pence, senior White House officials and cruise industry leaders on Saturday.
As I said to cruise line industry leaders today: As we work to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, if you’re a senior citizen with a serious underlying health condition, this would be a good time to practice common sense & avoid activities including traveling on a cruise line.— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) March 8, 2020
Clia thanked Pence for a “productive meeting”, adding that it was ”committed to do even more to protect our guests, our crew and the communities where we sail”.
The cruise association said it would implement “aggressive” new health and safety measures to combat coronavirus.
This would entail more stringent boarding processes, additional onboard medical resources, temperature screenings at embarkation and the development of protocols to care for guests on land “in the event of an incident to eliminate future incidents of onboard quarantine”.
“We expect to report back this week with further details of this enhanced approach to protecting public health,” Clia added.