State Department says Americans should avoid cruise ship travel amid outbreak of the coronavirus

Posted at 7:20 AM, Mar 09, 2020

The U.S. State Department has issued a warning for U.S. citizens looking to book a cruise.

The State Department has urged travelers, "particularly travelers with underlying health conditions," to not travel by a cruise ship due to the increased risk of being infected by the novel coronavirus.

"(The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment," the state department's statement read." In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking. In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures. While the U.S. government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities."

The announcement comes as passenger prepare to disembark from the Grand Princess cruise ship in Oakland after 21 people tested positive for COVID-19, and one person died. It also came hours after the CDC forced the Regal Princess cruise ship to stay offshore near South Florida until two of the ship's crew members have been tested for coronavirus.

On Sunday, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, was at Port Tampa Bay to address coronavirus concerns. He said the cruise industry is focused on what they can do to keep people safe.

"They're going to come back and be talking to the Vice President [Mike Pence] about what else they can do to make sure people are safe when they get on and safe when they get off," Scott said. "Everybody is learning. I'm never gonna point fingers at anybody, I think all levels, we're all learning about the coronavirus and how to deal with it."

This story was originally published by McKenna King on WFTS in Tampa, Florida.