Cruises should be avoided regardless of vaccination status, says the CDC

(CNN) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday raised the risk level for cruise ship prices to its highest level and said it should be avoided, regardless of vaccination status.

The agency increased the travel risk level for cruises from level 3 to level 4, which indicates that the risk for Covid-19 is “very high”.

The move “reflects increases in cases on board cruise ships since the identification of the Omicron variant,” the CDC website said.

“Since the identification of the Omicron variant, there has been an increase in the number of COVID-1[ads1]9 cases among cruise passengers and crew reported to the CDC. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of cruise ships meeting the COVID-19 case. Threshold for CDC investigation , “said the agency.

On December 30, the agency listed 91 ships in its yellow category indicating that the volume of Covid cases reported has reached the CDC’s threshold for investigation. There are five more ships than what was listed as yellow on 28 December. As of December 30, no ships were listed as red, indicating that reported cases are at or above the investigation threshold.

Three ships were listed as orange on December 30, indicating that reported cases are below the CDC’s threshold for investigation. Sixteen ships were listed as green, meaning that the ships had no reported cases of Covid-19.

Green, orange, yellow and red designations indicate a ship’s Covid situation from best to worst. A gray designation is reserved for ships that the CDC has not assessed for Covid safety.

The decision is “confusing,” says the trade association

Cruise Lines International Association, an industry association, expressed disappointment at the CDC’s increased risk level.

“The CDC’s decision to raise cruises is particularly confusing given that cases identified on cruise ships consistently make up a very slim minority of the total population on board – far fewer than on land – and the majority of these cases are asymptomatic or mild. nature, and poses little or no strain on medical resources on board or on land, “CLIA said in a statement.

The association said that “cruise ships offer a highly controlled environment with scientifically supported measures, known test and vaccination levels far above other arenas or modes of transport and travel, and significantly lower incidence than land.”

At least four cruise ships were rejected from ports of call or banned from letting passengers ashore in America this week due to Covid-19 cases on board.

A statement from the US Travel Association also indicated frustration with the CDC’s advice.

“The US Travel Association sincerely hopes that the current CDC advice that sets out recreational cruise travel – adopted despite the industry’s robust health practices and high rate (95%) of vaccination on board – is short and temporary,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, the association’s executive director. for public affairs and politics.

Advice if you decide to cruise anyway

While the CDC says to “avoid cruises, regardless of vaccination status,” it advises those traveling on a cruise ship to make sure they are fully vaccinated and boosted, if qualified. People going on a cruise should also be tested one to three days before the trip, and three to five days after, regardless of vaccination status.

Unvaccinated people should also quarantine for five full days afterwards. People on cruise ships should also wear masks in shared places, says the CDC.

Most cruise lines require all or the vast majority of passengers and crew to be vaccinated, in accordance with a CDC Conditional Sailing Order that was implemented to allow cruise operations to resume more than a year after the industry stopped at the start of the pandemic.

Many cruise lines also require pre-departure testing, regardless of vaccination status.

Some lines, including Royal Caribbean, require that all passengers 2 and older be masked in indoor public areas, except when actively eating and drinking.

Before coronavirus variants led to an increase in breakthrough cases among vaccinated, some lines required unvaccinated passengers to wear masks in areas reserved for vaccinated guests.

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