CRUISE SHIPS – Our Under-estimated Asset During Covid-19

With multiple cruise liners being denied entry and stranded at sea or docked on ports with thousands of passengers in limbo, why are our country’s leaders and health organizations not considering using these cruise ships to their advantage?.
Instead of isolating infected people in quarantine on these ships, some countries are allowing them to be disembarked and run the risk of spreading infections on people and health workers on the mainland and clogging our health systems, whilst others have been denied docking altogether.

The hospital ship U.S.N.S. Comfort which arrived in New York Harbor on Monday is surprisingly not planning to treat people with coronavirus onboard but will only take patients with other medical problems to help ease the burden on New York hospitals. Wouldnt it, make more sense to remove infected patients from their hospital systems and isolate them off-shore !?

At present, according to the Coronavirus Disease Fact Sheet for all international voyages entering Australia, printed on the 20th March 2020, disembarking crew or passengers are still able to fly home within or out of Australia and take public transport or taxis before self-isolating at home or accommodation if they have no signs or symptoms of COVID-19.  I still see this as a great risk and there are many questions that still need answering.

What about the transition period between disembarking and arriving home?
How much of a risk does this empose on the surrounding public?
What if these passengers do have this virus but just arent displaying symptoms?

These rules I’m sure are being adjusted daily according to developing circumstances and risks. I say, “Eliminate all risk, as practical or impractical as possible”. There is not even a mandatory rule to wear face masks when out and about in public.

Our hospitals are being over-run and are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of coronavirus cases. Yes, we are seeing many pop-up hospitals in stadiums and convention centers, but why are we not using these vessels as perfect off-shore virus isolation hubs. Doctors, nurses, equipment and food can be taken on board to treat the sick, without putting the rest of the population at risk.

Those passengers on board can be screened and placed into cabin isolation for a period of time. After the isolation period has expired, these passengers can be tested again and allowed to disembark for further self -isolation and those people testing positive to COVID-19 should be kept on board until they have the all-clear.

Most of these ships are doing the right thing, but unfortunately, there are still problem cases.
The MS Braemar which was in the Bahamas sent guests back to the UK by air before setting sail for Cuba.
The Silver Shadow in isolation docked in Brazil allowed a 78-year-old man to be taken to a private clinic, with the rest of the 609 passengers and crew isolated.
The Costa Luminosa disembarked three passengers in Spain’s Canary Islands after showing respiratory problems.
The Ruby Princess docked in Sydney harbour allowed all 2,700 passengers to disembark at Sydney’s Circular Quay with 133 people since, been diagnosed with coronavirus, with people told to self-isolate after they had travelled through our public transport system, airlines, taxis, and rail networks, posing risk to the general public.
The Western Australian Police and Border Forces have stepped up with the Artania passengers being isolated on Rottnest Island or in Perth hotels, with 7 infected cases.

Yes, these people want to go home. Yes, these cruise liners are under enormous pressure and have limited supplies, but under the circumstances isn’t it best to keep this virus, if at all practical, off-shore and let it run its course?

Our countries are over-run with COVID-19 cases with over 930,000 cases worldwide and 46,800 deaths to date. We have to keep trying new methods and solutions to win this battle against this invisible enemy. Each country should work together as a united front to help reduce casualties of this virus.

Stay Safe and Stay Inside.





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