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Australia's advice: ‘Reconsider taking an overseas cruise’

The Australian government has advised people to reconsider taking an overseas cruise at this time, joining similar cautions by the US and Canada.

However, Australia is specifying caution on overseas cruises, not domestic, whereas the US and Canada do not make that distinction.

‘Disruptions to cruise ship itineraries due to coronavirus (COVID-19) can have significant consequences for Australian travellers,’ warned Smartraveller, the website produced by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to provide the latest information for safe travel.

Underlying health conditions

DFAT said its advice is particularly relevant to people with underlying health concerns.

‘Understand the risks you are taking and that efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 may cause further travel disruptions and restrictions,’ Smartraveller said.

‘We are keeping all our travel advisories under very close review in consultation with the chief medical officer, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and our network of overseas embassies and consulates.’

Risk assessment

As far as screening for ships, NSW Health held up the departure of Ruby Princess from Sydney on Sunday.

An NSW Heatlh spokesperson elaborated on the procedures: ‘For each cruise ship arriving into NSW from overseas, a NSW Health expert panel conducts a risk assessment based on the ports visited, whether passengers and crew have a risk of exposure to COVID-19, whether the ship’s doctor has identified a respiratory outbreak on board and the results of tests done on board the ship.

‘Following this risk assessment, further assessment may be done when the ship docks, including checking people with fever and respiratory symptoms or who have risk of exposure to COVID-19 and testing them for respiratory infections, including COVID-19.’

CLIA protocols

A CLIA Australasia spokesman said the health and safety of passengers and crew remains the highest priority for Cruise Lines International Association members.

‘They have enacted robust measures globally in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, based on prevailing guidance from international health authorities,’ the spokesman said.

CLIA expects to announce further details of this enhanced approach to protecting public health later this week.

As earlier reported, temperature screenings at embarkation are being rolled out across the global fleet. 

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