For the 3,700 passengers in the quarantine of the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, their journey began without worries, but for the new coronavirus, it was the perfect opportunity to spread like wildfire.
Those who tested positive were taken to hospitals in the area, while people who tested negative remained locked in their cabins waiting to know if they had contracted a disease that has killed more than 2,000 people in China. While the Carnival Corp. operator intensified efforts to disinfect the ship, approximately one in seven people on board became infected.
Preventing the new virus from spreading on land is quite difficult. At sea, with thousands of passengers in enclosed spaces with autonomous systems, it is a completely different challenge. Each interaction with another passenger or crew member becomes a possible source of transmission. And the virus has many places to hide.
The most pressing challenge was to separate the increasing number of infected passengers aboard the Diamond Princess, in the port of Yokohama, from the apparently healthy ones.
With most passengers confined in their cabins, disinfecting the ship was more complicated. Authorities approved the methods proposed by Princess Cruises to clean the cabins and provide clean bedding when guests were outside, taking some air, said line president Jan Swartz.
Cruises are the only means of transportation that has medical facilities onboard. Still, cruise sanitation is so important that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. UU has a Sanitation Program that governs all ships carrying more than 13 passengers. There is a 291-page operation manual to keep ships clean and prevent gastrointestinal diseases.
The industry has learned from repeated norovirus outbreaks, implementing protocols to treat this highly contagious gastrointestinal disease. These measures, including hand cleaning points located on all ships, have probably prevented the coronavirus from spreading further, said Peter Andrew White, a professor of microbiology at the University of New South Wales.
Onboard the Diamond Princess, Kent Frasure of Oregon said his wife tested positive for the coronavirus, and that she stayed in her room for five or six hours until she was transported to a hospital. He turned negative and remained in the same room for three days without cleaning. “I wish they would at least give me Clorox wipes or something,” Frasure said.
”Cruises have a very high risk of disease transmission. People circulate everywhere, use the same aisles, touch handles and railings. It is easy to get something.
Normally, after a norovirus outbreak, all passengers would disembark and the ship is disinfected from top to bottom, said Jean-Paul Rodrigue, professor of traffic geography at Hofstra University in New York, who has written about maritime pandemics.
“They would empty the ship and disinfect everything.” ” Some would even fumigate .”
Diamond Princess passengers were quarantined to prevent the spread of the virus, so emptying the ship was not possible. Onboard, ways to reduce the risk of transmission included additional cleaning and delivery of food in the rooms.
In Hong Kong, 3,600 passengers were allowed to leave another ocean liner, the World Dream. The ship had been in quarantine since February 5 after Hong Kong authorities discovered that passengers on a previous trip had tested positive for coronavirus.
After the quarantine announcement, the operator Dream Cruises Management Ltd. implemented new sanitation procedures and assessed the temperature of all guests and crew members. Passengers reported that the cleaning team was cleaning the decks more frequently, especially railings and doors.
Norovirus seems to be more difficult to eliminate than the coronavirus that spreads from person to person, through cough drops, or sneezing is something similar to the flu and other respiratory pathogens. Normal cleaning procedures are performed with professional disinfectants or bleach.
Normal cleaning procedures are performed with professional disinfectants or bleach.
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