Agency says CDC recommendation for cruises: Avoid cruise ships, ‘regardless of vaccination status’, amid spreading COVID

WASHINGTON – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new warning on Thursday to avoid all cruise lines – regardless of vaccination status – amid dozens of reported COVID-19 outbreaks.

The agency said 88 ships are currently under investigation or observation, but did not specify how many COVID-19 cases have been reported.

CDC uses a four-level system to classify COVID-19 health risks to international travelers. Prior to Thursday, travel itineraries were designated as “Level 3: High level of COVID-19”, but amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant, the Travel Health Notice level has been updated to Level 4, top level.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters on board and the chances of catching COVID-19 on a cruise ship are very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,” reads warning.

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However, neither the CDC nor the travel agencies have announced any shutdown plans.

With a Level 4 alert, the agency is encouraging travelers to get vaccinated and stay healthy and to wear masks in public spaces.

And despite the warning, the CDC still plans to lapse a series of rules that yachts must follow to set sail during the pandemic. The regulation, known as a conditional sailing order, is expected to expire on January 15 to become a voluntary program.

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Most routes require adult passengers to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination. Cruise ships are allowed to relax measures such as the use of masks if at least 95% of passengers and 95% of crew are fully vaccinated.

Several Florida-based ships have reported outbreaks of the disease. Carnival Freedom was denied entry to Aruba and Bonaire after an undisclosed number of passengers and crew were infected with the virus.

Some cruise ships have not been allowed to dock in Mexico due to reported cases, reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic when cruise lines negotiated docking plans when the ships were turned away by officials out of concern. about the spread of the virus.

The Mexican government on Tuesday said it would allow cruise ships with reported coronavirus cases to dock. The health ministry said that asymptomatic passengers or crew will be allowed to disembark normally, while those who show symptoms or test positive for the virus will receive isolation or medical care.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The video in the media player above was used in a previous report.

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Dais Johnston

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