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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday issued a new recommendation that travelers, regardless of vaccination status, should avoid traveling on cruise lines following a recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases on board ships.
The agency raised its cruise travel warning to level 4 – the highest level – after investigating dozens of ships where the virus had broken out.
“Even fully vaccinated travelers can be at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” the CDC said on its website.
After the Omicron variant was identified, the number of COVID-19 cases among cruise passengers and crew reported to the agency has increased, the CDC said.
More cruise lines have achieved “yellow” – the level at which the CDC is investigating COVID outbreak on a ship.
“It is especially important that travelers who are at increased risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19 avoid traveling on cruise lines, including river cruises, worldwide, regardless of vaccination status,” the agency added.
According to the CDC website, 91 cruise lines are currently being investigated or monitored. However, according to The Associated Press, the agency has not disclosed how many COVID-19 cases have been reported.
Three other ships are monitored.
The CDC advised that those who choose to cruise should get a COVID-19 vaccination prior to their trip and, if eligible, receive a booster dose.
In addition, masks should also be worn in common areas, and passengers who are not fully vaccinated against COVID should self-quarantine for five days after the trip and get tested three to five days after their return, the CDC said.
In an email to MediaFrolic, a spokesman for the Cruise Lines International Association said the trade group was “disappointed” with the CDC’s latest recommendation against cruise lines.
“While we are disappointed and disagree with the decision to highlight the cruise industry – an industry that still outperforms other sectors, CLIA and our ocean cruise company members remain committed to partnering with the CDC in the US Public health and safety interest “, said the trading group.
According to the AP, most cruise lines require adult passengers to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
For the time being, the CDC guidance allows cruise lines to relax measures – such as the use of masks – once at least 95% of passengers and 95% of the cruise ship crew are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.