After a long enforced break due to the Covid pandemic, cruise lines resumed operations in June 2021. But faced with the spread of the Omicron variant, they have seen a sharp increase in the number of cases in recent weeks.
A cruise ship, carrying mostly Germans, had to disembark its travelers on Monday January 3 in Lisbon instead of leaving for the Spanish archipelago of the Canaries after several cases of Covid-19 on board.
The ship, which docked in the Portuguese capital on Wednesday from La Coruña in northwestern Spain, was carrying some 2,844 passengers and 1,353 crew. He was to reach the Canary Islands after a stopover on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
But, after the first cases were reported on Wednesday, the company AIDA Cruises decided on Sunday to end the cruise ” in the interests of the safety and health of its passengers and crew “, indicated to a spokesman with the AFP. A total of some 68 people tested positive on the ship on Monday, including 60 crew members.
Those who tested positive are “ asymptomatic or with mild symptoms “, specified the captain of the port of Lisbon, by specifying that the majority had been welcomed in hotels of the city to respect a quarantine there. Passengers over the age of 12 and the crew were all ” fully vaccinated and tested twice before boarding the cruise ship, according to the shipping company.
The AIDAnova, commissioned in 2018, with a capacity of nearly 5,200 passengers according to its technical data sheet, is due to leave the port of Lisbon on Wednesday afternoon. The next cruise is scheduled for January 15, departing from the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.
150 positive cases on an Italian ship
At the same time, in Italy, at least 45 passengers from a cruise ship were placed in quarantine on Monday in the port of Genoa (Italy) and taken care of after having tested positive for Covid-19, according to the company MSC.
According to the Italian press, the tests carried out on board the Grandiosa liner of the MSC company, which arrived Monday morning at 7 a.m. UT in Genoa from Marseille (south of France), revealed some 150 positive cases. Contacted by AFP, MSC denied this figure, simply reporting that 45 cases, “ mostly asymptomatic “, had landed in Genoa.
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But later in the day the company acknowledged that there were other Covid-positive passengers on board the ship, without specifying their number, just adding that they would disembark during the next stopovers. ” In accordance with protocol, positive passengers and their relatives were immediately isolated in cabins with balconies and received medical attention. They were disembarked today in Genoa to be brought home safely at the company’s expense, said MSC’s communications department regarding the 45 people who got off the ship in Genoa.
However, the cruise has not been interrupted and the ship will continue its journey with Civitavecchia, the port near Rome, as its next stop.
Stopping trips to Brazil
In addition, the Brazilian Association of Maritime Cruises announced on Monday the suspension of trips until January 21, due to ” differences on the application of Covid protocols, following recommendations from the health authority after the appearance of clusters on three ships.
There “ pauseexplained the association representing the giants of the sector such as Costa and MSC Cruises, aims to resolve disputes » with the authorities concerning « interpretations and applications of operational health and safety protocols that were approved at the start of the current season in November “. Cruise ships currently traveling will complete their journey, the association said.
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Infections on three cruise ships sailing off the country’s coast on New Year’s Eve have worried health regulator Anvisa, which has recommended suspending cruises. On December 30, health authorities suspended the operations of two ships, the Costa Diadema and the MSC Splendida, after reporting several dozen cases on board.
The Costa Diadema was ordered to disembark 68 infected people and return to its home port of Santos, near Sao Paulo, for quarantine. The Splendida, bound for Rio de Janeiro, was also ordered to return to Santos after reporting 78 cases. A third ship, the MSC Preziosa, with a capacity of 4,000 passengers, had to land in Rio around thirty infected passengers who were isolated, as well as contact cases.
Caution from the United States
US health authorities recommended last Thursday December 30 to avoid cruises, including for vaccinated people, due to the sharp increase in the number of Covid cases on board ships around the globe since the arrival of the Omicron variant.
While the number of new contaminations is soaring every day a little more in the United States, cruise passengers sailing in American territorial waters, who had reported 162 cases to health authorities between November 30 and December 14, reported 5,013 between on December 15 and 29, said a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the country’s main health agency, in an email to AFP. ” The virus that causes Covid-19 spreads easily between people in close contact on board ships, and the risk of contracting Covid-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received a booster dose “, justify in an official message the CDC. They therefore raised their alert level to the highest level.
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People who still want to go on a cruise should get tested one to three days before they depart and three to five days after they return, and for those not fully vaccinated, self-quarantine for five days after disembarkation, recommends health authorities.