As the Wuhan coronavirus continues to hit the cruise industry, both cruise companies and ports are issuing statements on what steps are being taken to contain the virus.
Arguably the most high profile case is that of Princess Cruises’ ‘Diamond Princess’, which had more than 170 cases on board with more confirmed this week, while still stuck at Yokohama.
“We are following guidance from the Japan Ministry of Health on plans for disembarkation protocols to provide medical care for these new cases,” Princess Cruises said in a statement. “It was not unexpected that additional cases would be reported involving individuals who were exposed prior to the start of the quarantine.”
There were said to be at least eight cruise ships, which have had to cease operations, mainly in Asia. The cruise companies known to have been affected include NCL, RCL, MSC, HAL, Princess, Genting, NYK, Costa and Crystal Cruises.
In addition, local Chinese ferry services and newcomer Astro Ocean Cruises, operator of the ‘Piano Land’, ex P&O’s ‘Oriana’, have stopped sailings.
Among the countries to have banned cruise ships are Taiwan, Hong Kong, Guam and Japan with the Philippines recently banned a ship from entering Manila, while Laem Chabang (Bangkok) also turned away a cruise ship.
Other countries and ports are monitoring the situation with several banning people holding a Chinese, Hong Kong or Macau passport from entering, both passengers and crew.
On 8th February, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), issued a policy statement –
“The health and safety of cruise passengers and crew is and remains the number one priority of CLIA and its member lines, which make up over 90% of ocean-going cruise capacity worldwide.
“Given the evolving nature of the ongoing 2019-novel coronavirus outbreak—and based upon prevailing guidance from global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO)—CLIA members have adopted the following enhanced protocols for ocean-going guests and crew who have recently travelled from or through China, including Hong Kong and Macau.
“These enhanced policies, which are in effect as of 7th February, 2020, build upon those which were implemented on 31st January, 2020 and continue to allow for informed decisions on a case-by-case basis whether a guest or crew member will be permitted to board.
“CLIA members are to deny boarding to all persons who have travelled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 14 days before embarkation.
“CLIA members are also to deny boarding to all persons who, within 14 days before embarkation, have had close contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed as having Coronavirus, or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to Novel Coronavirus.
“CLIA Members are to conduct pre-boarding screening necessary to effectuate these prevention measures. Enhanced screening and initial medical support are to be provided, as needed, to any persons exhibiting symptoms of suspected Novel Coronavirus.
“In co-ordination with cruise lines, medical experts and regulators around the world, CLIA and its member lines will continue to closely monitor for new developments related to the coronavirus and will modify these policies as necessary with the utmost consideration for the health and safety of passengers and crew.
“Importantly, the cruise industry is one of the most well-equipped and experienced when it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of those on board, with outbreak prevention and response measures in place year-round.
“Furthermore, ships must be fitted with on board medical facilities, with shipboard medical professionals available around the clock, 24/7, to provide initial medical care in the event of illness and help prevent disease transmission,” the statement concluded.
This week, the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) said that the virus will have a negative effect on the world’s economy and thus shipping demand across the board.