The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reassured the travel industry that CLIA member cruise lines already have instituted enhanced screening procedures on a global basis to help prevent the introduction and/or spread of H1N1 "swine flu" on cruise ships. “These procedures are working,” CLIA said in a statement, noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) also continues to recommend no restrictions on travel.
“The World Health Organization's decision to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from Phase 5 to Phase 6, reflects the spread of the disease, not the severity," CLIA said. "We have coordinated these procedures with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and they are fully consistent with the CDC’s guidance for cruise ships aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. The safety of our passengers and crew is CLIA’s highest priority.
“CLIA’s comprehensive and recently enhanced public health protocols are working well in protecting passengers, with minimal disruptions during the boarding process," CLIA continued. "The protocols call for cruise ship medical staff to screen passengers prior to boarding and to deny boarding only to guests who are feverish and have other flu-like symptoms. There are medical options for passengers who present symptoms during their cruise including treatment and isolation in their staterooms and, if appropriate and practical, disembarkation at a scheduled port of call. The cruise industry is also following the recently released CDC guidance for cruise ships, much of which is consistent with health protocols already practiced by CLIA member lines, and is continuing to consult with CDC and other public health authorities regarding Influenza A (H1N1) developments. The enhanced screening protocols announced May 1, 2009 augment comprehensive vessel sanitation and public health surveillance procedures already employed by the industry, and subject to inspection by CDC in the U.S., that reduce the potential for transmission of contagious diseases including Influenza A (H1N1).
“These practices include the use of recommended disinfectants, surveillance and treatment of communicable illnesses like influenza, isolation of sick passengers, food safety sanitation protocols, and consultation with public health authorities," CLIA continued. "CLIA member lines that operate internationally maintain appropriate medical support equipment and medications, including anti-viral medications that are effective in treating flu, including Influenza A (H1N1). CLIA and member lines will continue to coordinate closely with CDC and other public health agencies on recommended courses of action in response to the outbreak.”