Coronavirus: MSC cruise ship rejected from two Caribbean ports as crew member falls ill

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CRUISES have been hard hit by the outbreak of Coronavirus and yesterday MSC Meraviglia was rejected from two Caribbean ports amid fears that a crew member on board the MSC Cruises ship was sick.
Cruise ship MSC Meraviglia was turned away from two ports in the Caribbean on Tuesday. The rejection came amid fears of the spread of coronavirus. The MSC Meraviglia was denied permission to dock in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Georgetown, Cayman Islands in the Caribbean.

Authorities were concerned the sickness was a result of coronavirus.

However, the cruise line claims his illness is down to common seasonal flu and insist no cases of coronavirus have been reported on any MSC ships.

MSC is “extremely disappointed” with the double rejection.

The ship is now sailing onward to Cozumel, Mexico, the next scheduled port of call.

The Jamaican Ministry of Health released a statement yesterday.

It stated: “A cruise line with over 4,500 passengers and over 1,600 crew members was today (Tuesday, February 25, 2020) denied access to the port of call in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.

“The vessel arrived at approximately 8:30 a.m. and upon inspection by the Port Health Officials, it was discovered that a crew member was placed in isolation on board.

“The crew member had a cough, fever and associated muscle pains with a travel history to a country of interest relating to the COVID-19.”

Dwayne Seymour, health minister of the Cayman Islands, also released a statement.

He said: “In an abundance of caution, in order to provide protection to the health and safety of the residents of the Cayman Islands, the government has denied permission for the cruise ship to call on Grand Cayman as previously scheduled.”

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MSC have said that the sick crew member and all passengers onboard the Meraviglia had passed a health screening before boarding the ship at the weekend.

The cruise ship departed Miami on Sunday and was scheduled to complete a 15-day cruise of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, Bahamas, Belize and Honduras, returning to Miami on March 8, according to an itinerary.

MSC said in a statement sent to today: “MSC Cruises is extremely disappointed that Jamaican authorities yesterday delayed a decision for many hours to give our ship the necessary clearance to disembark guests, despite us having provided detailed medical records to the local health and national authorities ahead of its arrival as per normal protocol.

“Similarly, the decision taken overnight by the Grand Cayman authorities to refuse disembarkation at Georgetown was made without even reviewing the ship’s medical records, which show one single case of common seasonal flu (type A influenza) affecting one crew member with a travel history clearly showing no passages through territories either affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) or subject to any international health restrictions. In both instances, the ship was effectively turned away simply based on fears.

“MSC Meraviglia is currently at sea on her way to Cozumel, Mexico, her next scheduled port of call.

Antimicrobial surface coating said to show promise for ships, hotels

A room is treated with Act. Global’s Act CleanCoat, a coating that is then activated with sunlight or artificial light.

As concern about the Covid-19 coronavirus grows, a promising new antimicrobial surface coating is being marketed to hospitality and transportation companies.

Its maker, Act. Global, founded in 2013, offers a proprietary Premium Purity system that involves the application of Act CleanCoat, a transparent, odourless coating that the company says decomposes microbes, including bacteria, viruses, mould spores and volatile organic compounds.

Richard Tubb, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general and former White House physician is now an informal advisor to Act. Global.

“We had SARS in 2002, MERS-CoV in 2012 and now the coronavirus almost 10 years later,” Tubb said. “These types of things come and go, but they will never fully go away. What we need is a containment approach to allow us the luxury of turning our attention to the discovery of treatment and prevention, while also restoring people’s confidence in a way that will get them to engage with the economy.”

Hotels in a number of countries and the cruise line Lindblad Expeditions are among the early adopters of Denmark-based Act.Global’s product.

The coating’s key ingredient is titanium dioxide, a non-toxic, naturally occurring compound often used in paints, sunscreen and toothpaste, among other products.

The company claims that once exposed to sunlight or artificial light, a photocatalytic reaction activates the coating, producing a continuous surface- and air-purification cycle.

According to Act.Global, the coating has undergone extensive testing and has been approved by several independent laboratories, including Dr Brill and Dr Steinman Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology in Germany, ISI Food Protection in Denmark and Chang Gung University on Taiwan.

An Act ECA Generator produces an eco-friendly cleaning agent called Act ECA Water.

While still relatively new, the company is marketing its Premium Purity system to a variety of commercial and industrial venues, including hotels. To date, the company has launched the system in a dozen hotels throughout Denmark, Germany, India and Thailand.

Christopher Luscher, the company’s chief technology officer, said, “Act. Global is founded on the premise of sustainable disinfection, and what we have seen in the hospitality sector is that we’ve been able to convert the method of cleaning so it’s less like a firefighter coming in and trying to fight a fire and more like the installation of fire-resistant materials.”

In the hotel setting, the company’s CleanCoat can be applied on almost any fixed surface, hard or soft, though Luscher said his rule of thumb is that “if the Mona Lisa is hanging on the wall, it’s best to take it down.” After the coating is applied, it takes two hours to set.

How it works

Post-application cleanliness is maintained with the use of an eco-friendly and affordable cleaning agent called Act ECA (for electrochemically activated) water. The water is produced using an Act ECA Generator, which is installed on-site and requires just two ingredients: water and salt.

Coating costs vary greatly by region and venue. Act. Global sells Premium Purity with a three-year service contract.

Hotels aren’t the only settings in which an antimicrobial coating offers a promising solution. In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Luscher reported that the company is seeing a surge in demand from airports and restaurants as well as from airlines, railways and cruise ships.

Among the first cruise lines to adopt Premium Purity is Lindblad Expeditions, which deployed the system aboard its National Geographic Explorer ship in mid-2018.

Bruce Tschampel, Lindblad’s vice president for hotel operations, said, “We’re very careful about the environment, and we were looking for options for a green cleaning method that used fewer chemicals and plastic. Also, with cruise lines, we have to be absolutely clean and sanitary because you’re in this small environment, and someone could bring on a cold, and it’s easily passed around.”

The results made a compelling case for the product.

Following the National Geographic Explorer’s trial run, Tschampel said, the company “reduced guest-reported illness by 50%, eliminated over 1,000 plastic bottles of cleaning products and reduced water usage by 1.1 million gallons per year.”

Lindblad has since announced plans to adopt Premium Purity across its entire fleet, coating all of its eight ships, including all public areas and guest and crew cabins. The process is set to be completed by early March. Lindblad’s newest ship, the Endurance, will also be using the system when it debuts next month.

“There is a choreography that has to be managed, whether you’re a hotel or a ship,” Tschampel said. “How do you get all these areas coated, and when is the right time to do it? But so far, we’re extremely pleased, and there are so many benefits. The results have been even better than we expected.”

Tour operators ‘closely monitoring’ coronavirus impact on Europe

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The map above shows the affected areas.

Tour operators are braced to react to travel restrictions as the impact of coronavirus spreads across Europe.

Fears the virus, which has caused the deaths of more than 2,600 people in China, was becoming a pandemic heightened with 80,000 cases worldwide.

More than 20 deaths had been confirmed from 1,200 cases outside of China on Tuesday night. Eleven were in Italy, which had 323 cases – the largest number in Europe, and where more than 50,000 people were quarantined in 11 towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, home to Milan and Venice.

Austria, Croatia, Spain, Switzerland and Algeria said new cases involved people who had been to Italy.

The Foreign Office last night advised against “all but essential travel” to the 11 towns in northern Italy.

The chief medical officer Chris Whitty said people with underlying health conditions might want to rethink travel plans for northern Italy but added that it was reasonable for anyone else to go because “there’s nothing in this world where there isn’t risk”.

He told The Times: “We’re not recommending changing travel advice for Italy at this point.”

A hotel in Tenerife was quarantined after an Italian tourist who had coronavirus had been identified on the island. About 1,000 guests at H10 Costa Adeje Palace were placed on lock-down. Jet2holidays stopped sales to the hotel after it was placed under quarantine, with holidaymakers due to stay at the property transferred to other accommodation.

Consumer group Which? warned that a lack of clarity was creating confusion for travellers. Insurance companies will only payout on a cancelled trip if the FCO has advised against travel to that area.

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Tour operators, including Kuoni, Cosmos and Titan Travel, said they were keeping a close eye on developments in Italy and monitoring Foreign Office advice in case of warnings against travel.

Exodus Travels said no one was affected on its current trips in Italy and nearby Austria.

A spokesperson said: “At present, all itineraries are scheduled to operate as normal, however, they are in constant contact with their trusted operators that work in all affected countries, and will monitor the situation closely.

“As always, Exodus Travels works hard to ensure the safety of their staff and customers at all times.

Newmarket Holidays starts its Italy tours in April. Chief operating officer David Sharman said the operator was “monitoring the situation extremely closely”.

He added: “As with all incidents that impact on travel we follow Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as a source of good practice, with our customers’ health and wellbeing our top priority.”

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A school in Northwich closed for the week after students returned from a ski trip in Italy and another, in Nantwich, shut its sixth form.

Agents were fielding questions from concerned customers “instantly”, said Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan, who added: “24/7 news coverage means clients become 24/7. As the operators say, it goes on the FCO advice – but agents can shine by answering our clients’ questions.”

Louise Thomas, of Tailor Made Travel, said: “The phone was ringing quite heavily this morning. It’s difficult to anticipate the outcome.”

Greek airline Aegean waived rebooking fees for passengers due to travel until March 20 across its network.

“Also be advised that our company will continue its regular flight schedule to all destinations, including Italy, until further notice,” the carrier added. “Naturally, we will continue to cooperate with the relevant authorities for any further steps that may be required.”