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MarketWatch asks public health experts, “Would you take a cruise without masks and COVID tests?” Their answers may surprise you.

By Quentin Futrell

Norwegian drops COVID-19 testing, vaccination and concealment

President Joe Biden said the pandemic is over, even though more than 300 people die from COVID-related illnesses every day. Cruise lines, which suffered severe disruptions during the early days of the novel coronavirus outbreak, and in some cases were stranded abroad because ports refused them permission to dock due to the coronavirus outbreak on board, are now relaxing their health protocols.

Norwegian Cruise Line, one of the world’s largest cruise lines, said Monday that passengers will no longer be required to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, show results of such a test, or wear a mask. The new policy takes effect Tuesday. Harry Sommer, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH), noted “significant and positive progress in the public health environment.”

“Health and safety have always been our number one priority; in fact, we have been the pioneers in health and safety since the beginning of the pandemic,” Sommer said in a statement. “Many travelers have been patiently waiting for their long-awaited vacation at sea and we can’t wait to celebrate their return.” The ships also have new protocols, including more sanitation, improved air filtration, and improved sanitation.

Are you taking a cruise?

“I wouldn’t go on a big cruise ship that didn’t have reasonable COVID prevention measures, and a good emergency plan to deal with the disease,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chair of the Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah. “A lot of cruise passengers fall into high-risk groups, and medical care and evacuation is a challenge.”

“We can argue about what is adequate prevention,” Bhavya told MarketWatch. “Vaccination appears to be a minimal standard. It will not prevent introduction and spread but will reduce the potential for severe consequences. Testing is ‘another slice of Swiss cheese’ fairly easy. With other measures in place, the required routine concealment can be mitigated. “.

Will Dr. Louis Ostrosky, a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, take a cruise that doesn’t require vaccination, COVID-19 testing, or masks? “No. Concealment, testing and vaccination are the minimum mitigation measures/safety standards to make sailing successful. It’s easy how quickly we forget those days of cruising on cruise ships and ships having a hard time finding a port,” he said.

“If you get sick early in your trip, it’s going to be long and miserable,” Dr. Priti Malaney, an infectious disease physician at the University of Michigan and a fellow of the American Infectious Diseases Society, told MarketWatch. “We’ve come a long way with vaccines and treatments. The idea of ​​going on a cruise two years ago? It felt like it would never happen. You can’t even imagine going back to restaurants.”

Malani does not rule out taking a cruise, but advises caution. “The vaccination gives you high protection against poor outcomes, but it does not protect you from infection,” she said. “On the cruise, you can control how much exposure you have, but if you go with a family, you can’t control what they do. If your family isn’t careful and you hang out together, you might get exposed.”

Make sure you have an insurance plan, preferably one that covers your transport to the hospital if needed. “Get travel insurance, especially if you have pre-existing conditions,” Malani said. “COVID is not the only risk to your health. You can eat in outdoor dining areas. It does not mean that the risk is zero. If you are in a crowded indoor space in a bar, you are probably going to be exposed to people.”

Is the epidemic over?

Experts believe that the epidemic is not over yet. Ostrosky advises caution, especially as summer draws to a close: “As much as we want it to be, the pandemic is not over anywhere. The world still records nearly 200,000 daily cases, and the US still has more than 300 people dying every day. Rates Our vaccination and reinforcement are less than ideal, new variables keep emerging and the proverbial winter approaches.”

Bhavya agrees. “I don’t even think President Biden thinks the pandemic is ‘over’. Despite his reputation for speaking off the cuff, it’s hard to communicate how best to make decisions because the disease is slowly and unexpectedly changing in the direction of becoming a pandemic.” “I haven’t learned how to define the end of the pandemic until you look back,” he added.

As of early Friday, the coronavirus has killed 1,062,130 Americans, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There were 20,686 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States early this week. On Monday, the CDC dropped its country-by-country health travel notices, which began being issued early in the pandemic.

“The pandemic has reached a point where we can go ahead and do all the things we think are important,” Malani added. “Today’s COVID is very different from the COVID two years ago.”

Read more:

CDC drops traveler health notifications about COVID-19 for individual countries

Are cruises fun again? COVID rules have been relaxed, but some things may never go back to the way they were

“The pandemic is over,” Biden says in an interview with “60 Minutes.”

– Quentin Futrell

 

(end) Dow Jones Newswires

10-09-22 2045ET

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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