New Health Measures For Restoration Of International Cruises
At last, after several months in which the general rule for COVID cases onboard cruise international vessels was the disembarkation of passengers and crew, Spanish Health Authorities have just adopted the general rule that asymptomatic cases or those with mild symptoms (at the discretion of the doctor on board) may remain on board provided that the following requirements are met: a) that health care in case the person starts symptoms or worsening occurs, is guaranteed until disembarkation, and b) Foreign Health considers that the facilities enabled onboard to carry out the isolation, are adequate for this purpose both in quality and quantity.
Confirmed cases with severe symptoms should be disembarked and directed to a health center agreed with the shipping company.
Cases remaining on board should be isolated in their cabins for 7 days from the onset of symptoms or the date of sampling if asymptomatic if at the end of this period the person is asymptomatic and at least 3 days have elapsed since the resolution of symptoms. Close contacts may remain on board observing certain recommendations set out in the new Measures for restoration of international cruises of March 2022.
In previous Measures, all confirmed cases presenting symptoms were to be disembarked and transferred to a health center agreed by the shipping company, although in practice most of the cases were isolated in hotels. Asymptomatic cases, as a general rule, had also to be disembarked, although Foreign Health could authorize them to remain on board if the shipping company justified the impossibility of finding accommodation in the town or city where the ship was as long as some requirements were met.
The measure to require Covid positive passengers and crew on cruise ships, whilst in Spanish waters, to be disembarked was not satisfactory for international cruise operators, with strict isolation policy onboard for positive passengers and crew in line with the strictest Covid protocols, nor it was for their crew and guests, for whom the disembarkation was extremely disruptive to their life and could suppose additional risks for them. On the other hand, a policy of disembarkation of Covid positive guests and crew could be counterproductive to public health, not only through exposing many different people to the Covid positive person as they disembark the ship.
For these and other obvious reasons, we have to celebrate that the new general Measure is the isolation onboard of Covid positive passengers and crew on international cruise ships. This is certainly good news for an industry that has done a lot to create an environment where the crew and guests are protected based on implemented health and safety protocols. And of course, good news for the crews and the guests of the cruise lines.