CDC stops reporting covid cases on cruise ships

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stopped reporting coronavirus levels for cruise ships in US waters, ending a pandemic-era program that allowed the public to monitor the spread of the virus at sea.

A notice posted on the CDC’s website for cruise travel says the program ended Monday. A color-coded sortable chart and spreadsheet detailing the level of spread on ships is no longer visible on the webpage, the agency confirmed.

“The CDC has determined that the cruise industry has access to the necessary tools (for example, cruise-specific recommendations and counseling, vaccinations, testing instruments, treatment modalities, and non-pharmaceutical interventions) to prevent and mitigate COVID-19 on board,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said in an email.

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A statement posted in an FAQ section of the CDC’s cruise travel page says the agency ended the program because it “depended on each cruise line having the same COVID-19 testing standards, which can now vary from one cruise line to another”. The site says cruise lines will continue to report coronavirus cases to the agency.

Without publicly available coronavirus data, the CDC’s page for cruise travel says customers “have the option to contact their cruise line directly regarding outbreaks occurring on their ship.”

In January, the public health agency turned mandatory rules cruise lines had to follow for much of the pandemic into recommendations for a program they could enroll in. These rules included testing and vaccination requirements for passengers and crew.

Nordlund said cruise lines “will determine their own specific COVID-19-related requirements for cruise travel, as well as safety measures and protocols for passengers traveling on board based on CDC recommendations to reduce risk. of COVID-19”.

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Royal Caribbean requires all travelers 12 years of age or older to be vaccinated and present a negative test result no later than two days prior to boarding. On Carnival cruises, passengers 2 years and older must present a past negative test no later than 72 hours; customers must also be vaccinated or obtain a vaccine exemption from the company.

Earlier this month, Norwegian Cruise Line dropped its testing requirements. All guests 12 years and older must always be vaccinated.

Anne Madison, spokeswoman for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said the association expects to receive further guidance from the CDC later this week.

“We look forward to reviewing the details, which we believe will be posted on the CDC’s website in the coming days,” Madison said in an email. “This is an important step forward for the CDC in aligning the guidelines for cruises with those it has established for other travel, hospitality and entertainment industries.”

Cruise lines say they will follow CDC coronavirus guidelines

As part of its program, the CDC has posted a list of the vaccination status and color status — indicating whether there are any reported coronavirus cases on board — of participating cruise ships. As of Wednesday, 93 of 94 ships reporting coronavirus data to the CDC were under observation as they reached the investigation threshold (cases in 0.3% of total crew and passengers).

In late March, the CDC dropped its coronavirus warning for cruises. It included advisories for cruise ships since March 2020, when cruise lines stopped sailing from US waters for more than a year.

Hannah Sampson contributed to this report.

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