World March 31, 2022 | 6:07 pm

Us cancels covid-19 related travel warning for cruises

U.S. federal health officials on Wednesday canceled cruise travel advisories they had issued since the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving vacationers to decide whether or not they feel safe boarding a ship.

Cruise operators welcomed the announcement, issued while many people thought about their summer vacations.

An industry business group said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decision validates measures ship owners have taken, which include requiring crew members and most passengers are vaccinated against the virus.

The CDC has withdrawn the “cruise travel health advisory” related to COVID-19, first issued in March 2020, due to coronavirus outbreaks on various ships worldwide.

However, the agency expressed reservations about taking cruises.

“While taking cruise travel will always carry some risk of transmission of COVID-19, travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, similar to that they do in all other travel settings,” he said. Dave Daigle, a spokesman for the CDC, in an email.

Daigle noted that the CDC’s decision was based on “the current state of the pandemic and the decline in COVID-19 cases aboard cruise ships in recent weeks.”

COVID-19 cases in the United States have been on the decline since mid-January. However, the decline has slowed in recent weeks. According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, the current seven-day daily moving average of new cases in the country has remained almost unchanged from two weeks ago. States have lifted mask mandates, prompting federal authorities to ease virus-related restrictions.

Outbreaks continue to be reported on cruise ships, which carry out random tests before the end of the tour.

On Sunday, a Princess Cruises ship returning from the Panama Canal had “several” passengers who tested positive for the virus. Princess Cruises said all affected people showed mild or no symptoms, and all crew and passengers had been vaccinated. However, about a dozen passengers tested positive before the same ship docked in San Francisco in January.

Operators are required to notify the CDC of virus cases aboard ships. The agency has a color-coding system to classify vessels based on the percentage of tested positive passengers. The CDC said that system remains in place.

Since the pandemic, Cruise operators have complained that their particular sector was closed and more severely restricted by COVID-19 than others, including airlines.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said that the CDC’s decision to withdraw its health warnings “recognizes the effective public measures in place for cruise ships and begins to level the playing field between cruise ships and similar facilities located on land.

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