The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday banned all US cruises through September after it documented thousands of onboard coronavirus infections as well as “ongoing” outbreaks on ships.
The agency’s no-sail order was set to expire on July 24, but troubling COVID-19 data from vessels forced the CDC to issue an extension.
“The current scientific evidence suggests that cruise ships pose a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission than other settings,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield wrote in the order, noting that during the outbreak on the Diamond Princess, invested passengers passed the virus to four times as many people as those living in the COVID-19 outbreak epicenter, Wuhan, China.
US cruise ships were home to 2,973 coronavirus infections or likely illnesses through Jul 10, the CDC found. There were 99 outbreaks on 123 ships, with 80 percent of all US cruise ships grappling with infections.
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Nine ships are still battling ongoing infections, according to the CDC.
Redfield said there is still a “lack of consensus” among the industry on how to set sail safely. Proposals for operations that companies originally sent to the agency are still either “incomplete” or “did not fully meet all [CDC] requirements.”
Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corp. have been ravaged by the coronavirus, with travelers and experts viewing cruises as natural spreaders of the coronavirus.
“Cruise ship conditions amplified an already highly transmissible disease,” Redfield wrote.