CORONAVIRUS has left more than 140 Brits stranded on a cruise ship near California, with 22 people onboard reporting symptoms of the virus. Understandably, holidaymakers due to go on a cruise are worried – but is it safe to go amid the rising death toll?
What is happening on the Grand Princess cruise ship?
The Grand Princess, which is carrying 3,533 people, was due to dock in San Francisco on Wednesday.
The ship is being held off coast while 45 people are tested with test kits which were airlifted onto the ship yesterday. Guests are confined to their rooms to prevent spreading.
This news comes after three former passengers from a previous voyage on one of the company’s other ships tested positive, with one dying earlier this week in California.
This marked the first coronavirus death in the US outside of Washington State.
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Is it safe to go on a cruise amid coronavirus?
The Diamond Princess is the only cruise ship that has had coronavirus so far.
Experts have said there is an extremely low risk of catching coronavirus on a cruise ship.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) represents more than 90 percent of cruise ship operators, so there’s a good chance your cruise is booked with a member.
What is the CLIA doing to protect cruise ships from coronavirus?
The CLIA website says members are required to deny boarding to people who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in South Korea, Iran, China including Hong Kong and Macau, and the areas of Italy that are on lockdown.
CLIA members must also conduct sreenings for people who have visited, travelled from or transited via airports on the list of countries provided by the US CDC, read the list here.
They are also denying boarding to those who have had contact with or cared for anyone suspected or diagnosed with coronavirus, as well as people who are being monitored for possible exposure.
There will be pre-boarding screening to make sure all of these precautions are in place, and additional screening and medical support will be actioned if passengers or crew show symptoms.
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President and CEO of CLIA Kelly Craighead said: “We remain in close contact with local governments around the world, and while we regret that these changes will result in the denial of boarding for some of our guests, travelers should know that their health and safety is the absolute priority for the industry.”
Onboard it is likely you will experience a higher frequency of cleaning, more hand sanitizer stations, disinfectant wipes being distributed, and servers instead of self-serve buffets.
Should I go on a cruise during the coronavirus outbreak?
Health and safety measures have been stepped up and will be adapted if needed, so you should be fine to go.
If you have a preexisting condition that you have claimed on your insurance, you may be able to get a refund.
Since travel insurance doesn’t cover ‘change of mind’ due to worry, many people who are booked on cruises are waiting until nearer the time in hope that it will be 100 percent safe to go.
Some cruise companies- Viking River Cruises, Norwegian, and Seabourn to name a few- are allowing customers to delay their trips, cancel within days of trips, or swapping one passenger for someone else.
Check with your cruise company, as policies vary.
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