So said Dr. Calvin Johnson, chief medical officer, Royal Caribbean Group, during the ‘International Health and Safety Update’ Tuesday at Seatrade Cruise Global. 'None of us knew how to use testing effectively early on,’ he conceded. ‘It has toggled up and down.’
Now, he said, ‘earlier detection and more testing’ are an effective tool in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 on board cruise ships, adding there have been ‘products that in record time have been seen as safe and effective’ with the industry able to quickly adapt.
‘Cherry picking’ measures
Louis Sola, commissioner at the US Federal Maritime Commission, equally gave a nod to existing health protocols, describing a five-step approach to getting the industry back on its feet.
His fact-finding investigations involved experts ‘cherry picking’ the best practices in various scenarios, from safely evacuating passengers from cruise ships in the event of a COVID case to urging US lawmakers to temporarily waive the Passenger Vessel Services Act to help restart cruising in Alaska.
The 100% vaccination of crew is ‘key to the restart,’ he said, asserting the COVID protocols are 'going to be with us for some time, in some form.’
Sola’s work on distributing surplus vaccines was commended by moderator Donnie Brown, VP global maritime policy, Cruise Lines International Association.
A solution for every challenge
‘It [COVID] didn’t create a lot of new work, where we shine is where something unusual happens,’ proclaimed Joep Bollerman, global manager passenger ship support center, Lloyd’s Register, as he spoke of Lloyd’s method of remotely verifying cruise ships during the past year-and-a-half when accessing vessels has been challenging.
He went on to consider the success of Lloyd’s Shield Notation, ‘important in evaluating all the different protocols that cruise ships provide,’ and said: ‘Protocols need to be live ...You need to update [them].’
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