The Voice of the Cruise Industry

Mass testing and screening: The answer to cruise’s Covid-19 challenge?

Cruise Covid-19 testing of passengers

Stuart MacLennan, CEO of Circular1 Health, looks at how creating safe bubbles of passengers and crew could aid the cruise sector on its road to recovery.

There has been plenty of debate over the different methods of Covid-19 testing. There have similarly been conversations regarding the accuracy of tests, but notwithstanding the success of the vaccination programme, how can we use mass testing to accelerate the economic recovery?

Cruise Covid-19 testing and screening
Circular1 Health CEO Stuart MacLennan.

To find the answer, the cruise sector could look at other industries. Mass testing and screening, as an end-to-end managed service, is proven in supporting the mission-critical nuclear and defence sectors, for example, and creating safe bubbles within workforces. It is protecting not only people, but also corporate reputations.

The existing test to operate model – an active combination of rapid testing and screening – can be adapted to create safe bubbles of passengers and crew to reinvigorate the cruise sector.

Minimising risk and providing protection

The process for cruise would be simple and at every stage focus on minimising risk and protecting people’s health. Testing kits would be posted to passengers and crew 30 days before embarkation, ensuring they do not have to leave their homes until they know they are Covid-19-free.

There are three tests in all – a combination of LAMP and PCR tests. First, a 30-day pre-embarkation finger-prick antibody test, followed by a nasal swab test five days prior to embarkation and posted to a lab, and then a final nasal swab on the day of travel, to be dropped off en route at designated locations – for example a pharmacy or service station.

Crucially, all three tests would be sent to a laboratory to ensure the highest level of certainty.

An additional mobile laboratory could also be set up quayside for any emergency testing needs, with a 45-minute turnaround. If at any stage a positive result is recorded, the passenger would then be given the opportunity of rebooking their trip.

The whole process could be digital through the use of an app, providing each passenger/crew member with a complete audit trail and confirmation that it is safe to travel.

To some, this test and screening process may sound fanciful. But the fact is, it’s a process that is already happening in other critical industries.

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