COVID-19 outbreak hits Mediterranean cruise ship MSC Grandiosa
One of the largest cruise ships operating in the Mediterranean has become the latest to be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak amid the current increase in the number of virus infections globally.
MSC Cruises confirmed 45 Covid-positive passengers disembarked its MSC Grandiosa at the Italian port of Genoa on Monday – less than 1% of those on board.
The ship was carrying 4,813 passengers and crew members on a round-trip from Civitavecchia-Rome, with scheduled stops in Malta and Barcelona over the New Year.
All MSC Cruises crew members and passengers over the age of 12 must be fully vaccinated, while all travelers two years of age and older must submit a negative test prior to departure.
In a statement provided to CNN, MSC Cruises denied Italian media reports of a much higher number of COVID-19 positive cases on board. The carrier said the identification and removal of sick passengers demonstrated its health and safety procedures – including the wearing of masks in public indoor areas – were working.
MSC Cruises said active passengers and their loved ones were “immediately isolated in cabins with balconies.”
“Following the correct procedure, we organized transportation back home, all of which was done in accordance with the relevant health authorities and other authorities,” a statement from MSC Cruises said.
Crew members on board the MSC Grandiosa are said to have been screened every two days, while passengers are screened early and mid-journey. Passengers are also set to be checked in at the end of their journey.
MSC Grandiosa continues its journey after landing and will return to Rome on Tuesday.
CORRUPTION POINTS OF COVID-HIT
Returning in Summer 2020, the MSC Grandiosa was the first cruise ship to return to the Mediterranean after the global multi-billion dollar cruise industry closed in Spring 2020.
Since then, cruises have also been encouraged in the US market, and cruise companies globally have continued to enforce health and safety requirements on board – and have updated regulations. determined when conditions change.
As a spokesperson for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the body representing the major cruise lines around the world, told CNN Travel in December, the aim is not to completely prevent the virus from entering. enter the vessel which is to control its impact.
A CLIA spokesperson said: “Aware that COVID will inevitably persist due to the nature of the pandemic, our members have developed protocols designed to prevent, detect, and reduce mitigating COVID-19 in the cruise environment”.
The shipping lines also hope to avoid the chaos that follows in Spring 2020, when ships infected with the virus have to leave port.
However, after a spate of positive cases on global cruises in recent weeks, a number of ships infected with the virus have been denied entry to ports – such as the Carnival Freedom, which Carnival Cruise Line confirmed admitted to turning away from the Caribbean islands of Bonaire and Aruba in December.
And on December 30, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the risk level for cruise ship travel to the highest level and said it should be avoided, regardless of vaccination status.
The move “reflects an increase in cruise ship cases since the Omicron variant was identified,” the CDC website says.
“Since the identification of the Omicron variant, the number of COVID-19 cases among passengers and crew reported to the CDC has increased. Additionally, the number of cruise ships experiencing COVID-19 cases has increased. up. CDC’s investigation threshold,” the agency said.
CLIA expressed disappointment at the CDC’s high level of risk.
“The CDC’s decision to raise cruise ship travel levels is particularly confusing because cases identified on cruise ships always represent a very small minority of the total population on board – much less than on land – and the majority of those cases, the industry body said in a statement last week.