Positive COVID-19 cases rise to 27 as Carnival Vista leaves Belize for Cozumel

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The number of COVID-19 positives on board the Vista Carnival rose to 27 today as the cruise ship disembarked passengers ashore in Belize City Harbor. In addition to the 26 crew members who were infected and are in quarantine when the ship arrived in Roatan, which we reported on yesterday, a passenger also tested positive today.

Prior to the arrival of the Carnival cruise ship in Belize, Belize tourism officials, including the Minister of Tourism, as well as the Belize Tourism Board, virtually met with officials from the Vista Carnival yesterday to discuss the positive cases of COVID-19 on the ship. Subsequently, the tourist office publishes a Press release which included this information:

  • The crew is 99.98% vaccinated;
  • Passengers are 96.5% vaccinated;
  • All crew members who have tested positive are isolated;
  • All people who test positive are vaccinated, most are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms;
  • Contact tracing has been completed (including over 400 tests done on Saturday, over 300 tests done yesterday and over 200 more done today), which did not reveal any further positive results; and
  • Additional protocols have been put in place including increased wearing of masks indoors, the use of N95 masks by the crew, social areas for the crew have been closed and on the next departure all guests will need a negative rapid test whether or not they are vaccinated.

The Belize tourism team then concluded (in the press release) that the 26 infected crew members and one passenger “do not pose a threat to guests, crew or frontline workers in Belize.” The board said that “passengers will be allowed to disembark in Belize and take shore excursions as usual.”

Local tourism staff praised the carnival, writing that “cruise lines have sailed around the world throughout the pandemic and, in July, resumed shipping to the Western Caribbean and Belize. The lines have maintained an exceptional safety record, and with the extensive protocols in place, this is arguably one of the safest ways to travel today, amid the pandemic. “

Other than these self-serving findings from tourism staff, it does not appear that any expert in medicine, epidemiology, or infectious disease in Belize had any bearing on the decision to allow cruise passengers to disembark from a vessel with at least one least 27 people infected with a deadly virus. .

As we discussed yesterday, Belize has a local protocol which states that cruise passengers are not allowed to disembark if the total number of positive cases exceeds 2% of the vessel’s capacity. The Belize Tourist Board said in a press release on Facebook that the ship had on board “2,895 guests and 1,441 crew members. 2% of this total (4,336 crew members and guests) represents approximately 86 people.

Of particular interest in this press release is the statement that Carnival has conducted contact tracing of over 400 crew members. Saturday (the day the cruise ship left Galveston).. This information is consistent with the fact that up to 23 crew members tested positive for COVID-19 at any given time on Saturday, based on information we received that day. This raises the question of whether Carnival was transparent when the cruise line revealed only a “small number” of guests were infected on the previous cruise. Carnival has not revealed to the press (and apparently not the CDC) that any crew members were infected last Saturday, and it does not appear that Carnival ever disclosed to its cruise passengers on the ship (or the public. ) that the crew members on the vessel were infected.

As we explained yesterday, the 26 Carnival crew who are infected with COVID-19 involve employees from the following departments on the ship: -10 casino department (including the casino manager), catering and services department catering – 4, entertainment – 4, guest services – 2, photo – 2, housekeeping – 1 and drinks – 1. (The workstations of two crew members were not specified). As one reader of this blog commented, “How do you conduct a thorough contact search of all the close contacts of a casino manager?” “

the Carnival view is now sailing to Cozumel where she is scheduled to arrive early tomorrow morning. It is not clear whether this city’s local tourism health services in Mexico will release information regarding the continuing outbreak of the disease on the Carnival ship. the Vista Carnival will return to Galveston on Saturday.

the The CDC color coding system continues to display a “yellow” designation for the vessel with the statement that CDC has investigated and the vessel remains under observation. It should be noted that the CDC has exactly that designation and rating as Carnival still claims the ship only had a “small number” of infected guests on board the ship last week.

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Image credit: Carnival Corporation via Galveston.com



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