Dec. 30 (UPI) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended that people avoid travel by cruise ship amid increasing cases of COVID-19.
The CDC increased its health notice level for cruise ships to “Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19,” its highest category. The bulletin released Thursday said vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers should steer clear of cruise ships, several of which have reported COVID-19 outbreaks in recent weeks.
“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters on board ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose,” the CDC said.
The U.S. government shut down cruise ship travel at the start of the pandemic in spring 2020. Cruise ship travel resumed in June 2021 as COVID-19 cases declined with the arrival of the vaccine.
But cases have been on the rise in the United States — and worldwide — since then, with 486,428 new cases reported Wednesday, the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic. There were 1,500 new deaths reported Wednesday, less than half of the peak reported in January, according to the CDC.
Globally, there were 1.35 million new cases reported Wednesday, the World Health Organization said. Single-day case numbers had never reached more than 1 million prior to Wednesday.
Multiple cruise lines have reported outbreaks in recent weeks, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line. Last week, several cruise ships were turned away from foreign ports after reporting such outbreaks.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who serves on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, called on the CDC to halt cruise ship travel again amid the rising COVID-19 cases.
“Our warnings have proved sadly prescient & continuously compelling. Time for CDC & cruise lines to protect consumers & again pause — docking their ships. Cruises are repeating recent history as petri dishes of COVID infection,” he tweeted Tuesday.