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Coronavirus: CDC extends no sail order for cruise ships in the US

Cruise, Wave

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the extension of a ‘no sail order’ for all cruise ships for at least 100 days as it works to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The new order (dated 9 April) states that cruise ships have to cease operations for up to 100 days, or the expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that covid-19 constitutes a public health emergency, or if the CDC director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations.

In recent weeks, the CDC noted how at least 10 cruise ships reported crew or passengers that tested positive or experienced respiratory symptoms or influenza-like illness.

Currently, there are approximately 100 cruise ships remaining at sea off the East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf Coast, with nearly 80,000 crew onboard.

Additionally, CDC is aware of 20 cruise ships at port or anchorage in the United States with known or suspected covid-19 infection among the crew who remain onboard.

CDC director Robert Redfield said: “We are working with the cruise line industry to address the health and safety of crew at sea as well as communities surrounding U.S. cruise ship points of entry.

“The measures we are taking today to stop the spread of covid-19 are necessary to protect Americans, and we will continue to provide critical public health guidance to the industry to limit the impacts of covid-19 on its workforce throughout the remainder of this pandemic.”

The CDC said there are “several public health concerns when crew members become ill while on board the cruise ships” and the “passenger illness response on cruise ships” has involved “complex logistics, incurs financial costs at all levels of government, and diverts resources away from larger efforts to suppress or mitigate covid-19”.

The CDC added that further covid-19 cases from cruise ships also places healthcare workers at “substantial increased risk”.

“Some of these ships off the coast of the United States have crew that are not critical to maintain the seaworthiness or basic safe operation of the cruise ships, such as the vessel’s hotel and hospitality staff.

“The U.S. Government remains committed to humanitarian medevac for individuals in dire need of life-saving support.

“The CDC, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of Homeland Security have been working with the industry to determine the most appropriate public health strategy to limit the impact of covid-19 at cruise ship ports of entry in the United States.

“Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) voluntarily suspended cruise ship operations in March in conjunction with the earlier No Sail Order issued March 14.

“The industry has since been working to build an illness response framework to combat covid-19 on ships with international crew members who remain on board and at sea.

“This order ceases operations of cruise ships in waters in which the United States may exert jurisdiction and requires that they develop a comprehensive, detailed operational plan approved by CDC and the USCG to address the covid-19 pandemic through maritime focused solutions, including a fully implementable response plan with limited reliance on state, local, and federal government support.”

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