An extension has been announced to the ‘no sail order’ for cruise ships by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC has implemeted the no sail order for at least 100 days or until US health bodies declare the pandemic over.
And it criticised the cruise industry for not doing a sufficient job to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on its ships.
In an announcement released on Thursday, the CDC said in recent weeks “at least ten 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 on board.
“Additionally, CDC is aware of 20 cruise ships at port or anchorage in the US with known or suspected COVID-19 infection among the crew who remain on board.”
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 US 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.”
CDC said cruise ships markedly increase the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks and divert resources from “larger efforts to suppress or mitigate COVID-19”.
“The addition of further COVID-19 cases from cruise ships also places healthcare workers at substantial increased risk.
“Some of these ships off the coast of the US 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 US Government remains committed to humanitarian medevac for individuals in dire need of life-saving support.
“The CDC, the US 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 US.
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 US 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.”