THE Cruise Lines International Association issued a statement on Saturday, following a roundtable discussion with United States vice president Mike Pence and acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf, saying it will implement more stringent boarding procedures. It will add additional onboard medical resources and temperature screenings at embarkation, as well as develop industry-funded protocols to care for guests on land to eliminate future incidents of onboard quarantine.

The following day, the US State Department issued an alert urging US citizens “particularly travelers with underlying health conditions” not to travel by cruise ship due to the risk of coronavirus infection. The warning comes as 21 people on the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the New York Times.

The World Health Organization reported on 8 March that eight new areas (Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Faroe Islands, French Guiana, Maldives, Malta, Martinique and Republic of Moldova) had reported cases of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to over 100 countries that have now reported laboratory-confirmed cases. The number of COVID-19 cases globally has now surpassed 100,000.

Earlier this month, an elderly Perth man who spent time on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship become the first Australian to die after contracting coronavirus. A number of other Australian passengers from the Diamond Princess have also tested positive for the virus.

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The alert from the US State Department says many countries have put into place strict screening protocols that have denied entry to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking, all to try to contain the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

The alert states that while the US government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, “repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for US citizens” under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.

Trump administration officials said the passengers onboard the Grand Princess would be quarantined, with those who are ill receiving medical care at area hospitals.

Adam Goldstein, chairman of CLIA said, “Given the significance of travel and tourism, it is critical that Americans keep traveling. And yet, we also recognise that this is an unprecedented situation: COVID-19.

“Our commitment here today and going forward is to work closely with government and to go above and beyond anything we are currently doing — to screen even more stringently to prevent those who should not be allowed to board; to monitor, test, and care for those who are on board; and to transition and help pay for any guests or crew to move to locations staffed and equipped to handle COVID-19 cases.

“We will work aggressively with government to further develop and strengthen all necessary protocols for prevention, for detection, and for care.”

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