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State Department says US citizens ‘should not travel by cruise ship’ amid coronavirus

(Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. State Department is recommending American citizens do not travel on cruise ships because of the risk of coronavirus.

The below message can be found on the State Department’s website:

“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.  CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking.  In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures.  While the U.S. government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.”

“This is a fluid situation.  CDC notes that older adults and travelers 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.  Passengers with plans to travel by cruise ship should contact their cruise line companies directly for further information and continue to monitor the website and see the latest information from the CDC.

The captain of a cruise ship that was hit by the coronavirus told passengers the ship was headed to the port of Oakland in the U.S. state of California.

Grand Princess Capt. John Smith, in a recording provided by passenger Laurie Miller of San Jose, told guests late Saturday, March 7 that the ship would dock in Oakland. Princess Cruises officials said it was expected to arrive on Monday — carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries.

Smith said after medical screening, California residents who don’t require acute medical care would “go to a federally operated isolation facility within California for testing and isolation.”

U.S. guests from other states would be transported by the federal government to facilities in other states, with crew quarantined and treated aboard the ship.

The Grand Princess had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence that the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of nearly 20 cases that resulted in at least one death after its previous voyage.

As of Sunday, March 8, there were more than 500 cases of coronavirus in the United States and more than 20 deaths.

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