The U.S. State Department is warning American citizens not to travel by cruise ship due to concerns over the new coronavirus, COVID-19.
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday the warning will likely have an adverse impact on The Bahamas’ tourism industry.
“Clearly this will be impactful,” he said.
“There’s no doubt about it. I’m sure all persons that are considering traveling in general and taking a cruise, in particular, are going to heed this warning. And I’m sure it will be impactful.”
The advisory said, “U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.
“[The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC notes [an] 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.”
As of yesterday, there were over 105,000 cases of COVID-19 across the globe. Over 3,600 people have died with the majority of deaths in mainland China where the virus originated late last year.
In the United States, there were at least 450 confirmed cases across 32 states and 21 deaths.
Twenty-one of the confirmed cases in the U.S. were onboard a cruise ship named Grand Princess, which has been off the coast of California for days now. Over 3,500 people are still on the ship and will be tested for COVID-19.
Over 700 people contracted the virus while they were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined off Japan two weeks ago.
D’Aguilar said he believes cruise companies have been working to mitigate the spread of the virus, but those unfortunate events have created a bad image for the industry.
“I think the cruise companies from the outset have attempted to mitigate the very unfortunate scenarios that have been playing out on the television, primarily with the ship that was in Tokyo Harbor and the ship that is now just off the coast of San Francisco,” he said.
“I think those events have created an enormous amount of negative public relations for cruise companies.”
D’Aguilar added, “Obviously, these ships, in particular, have created a substantial amount of negative public relations and the U.S. government has deemed fit to take the steps they have taken.”