Coronavirus: 'Should reconsider' - Govt alert for Kiwis taking cruises

Author
Grant Bradley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 11 Mar 2020, 3:08PM
Photo / File
Photo / File

Coronavirus: 'Should reconsider' - Govt alert for Kiwis taking cruises

Author
Grant Bradley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 11 Mar 2020, 3:08PM

New Zealand authorities are warning Kiwis, particularly those with underlying health concerns, to reconsider taking an overseas cruise at this time due to Covid-19.

The Safe Travel website has just updated its advice.

"The virus can spread quickly on board cruises due to the close contact between passengers. Some cruise ships have been put into quarantine, and countries have denied entry to ports, which can have significant consequences for travellers. If in doubt, consult a medical professional before travelling," the Mfat-run site says.

It warns those booked on cruises and concerned about the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak to contact their travel agent or cruise operator for specific information.

It is also directing travellers to the Australasia website of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which outlines the protocols they put in place for the health and safety of cruise passengers and crew.

The Safe Travel advice follows a similar warning from US and Australian authorities during the past three days and will deal a blow to the $200 billion global industry which has been booming in the past three years.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents operators of 270 ships, said members had enacted ''robust'' measures globally in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

"The Australian Government made this decision without consultation with the industry, but we are moving forward and remain focused on development of an aggressive, responsive plan that goes beyond the already significantly enhanced protocols that are in place," said Joel Katz, the association's managing director for Australasia.

"Travellers will ultimately make their own decisions, so we are encouraging our trade partners to help them consider the extensive measures that have been put in place by cruise lines globally.''"

In the US, CLIA and the individual cruise companies met with Vice President Mike Pence over the weekend.

Katz said this included in-depth discussions on what further actions the industry can take.

"We will make further announcements this week with details of this enhanced approach to protecting public health."

Katz said this is 'a time unlike any we've seen before,' but our first priority is to protect our guests, our crew, our suppliers and trade partners, and communities we visit.

The association said cruise industry supports more than 18,000 jobs in Australasia and contributes more than A$5 billion annually to the economies of the region.

The majority of more than 270 cruise ships globally continue to operate unaffected by the virus, but with important precautions in place and cruise lines have extensive experience providing care and responding as necessary to evolving circumstances.

Existing global measures in response to coronavirus:

• Boarding will be denied to all persons who have within 14 days before embarkation travelled from, visited or transited via airports in Iran, South Korea and China, including Hong Kong and Macau, and any municipality in Italy subject to lockdown (quarantine) measures by the Italian Government, as designated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

• Pre-boarding screening will be conducted for all persons who have within 14 days before embarkation travelled from, visited or transited via airports in any destinations listed on the US CDC "Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel" page

• Boarding will be denied to all persons who have within 14 days before embarkation 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 Covid-19.

• Pre-boarding screening will be conducted to effectuate these prevention measures. Enhanced screening and initial medical support are to be provided, as needed, to any persons exhibiting symptoms of suspected Covid-19.

The US State Department issued a travel advisory at the weekend saying the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes an "increased risk of infection of Covid-19 in a cruise ship environment".

The statement continued: "This is a fluid situation. CDC notes that older adults and travellers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease. This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships."