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CDC revises COVID travel warning for cruise ships

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised its COVID-19 Travel Health Notice for cruise ships, lowering its alert from “very high” to “high.” The Cruise Lines International Association on Tuesday called the move a “step in the right direction” that “recognizes the leadership and effectiveness of the cruise sector’s health and safety protocols that are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting.” “Cruise ships have medical, isolation and quarantine facilities on site, implement extensive response plans using private shoreside resources, and have created an environment where almost every single person is fully vaccinated,” the group wrote. “As a result, cases of COVID-19 are very low with the vast majority mild or asymptomatic—making cruise unequaled in its multi-layered approach to effectively mitigating COVID-19.” The agency uses travel health notices to alert travelers to health threats. In 2020, it adapted the three-level notice system to a four-level system amid the COVID-19 pandemic and updated criteria to determine the levels. The four-level system categorizes international destinations into Levels 1 through 4, with Level 1 being a “low level” of COVID-19, Level 2 listed as “moderate, Level 3 defined as “high” and Level 4 marked as “very high.” A place that is Level 4 includes more than 500 new COVID-19 cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population. Level 1 is shown as fewer than 50 new cases over the same timeframe. People who go to places with a high level of COVID-19 should make sure they are fully vaccinated before travel and those who are not vaccinated should avoid nonessential travel there. Comparatively, the CDC advises everyone – regardless of vaccination status – to avoid travel to places that are listed as Level 4. In December, the CDC raised its travel health notice for the cruise industry to the highest level, telling Americans to “avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status.”

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