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Domestic Shipping
Cruise lines should boost standards to better combat epidemic, executive says
Date:2020-03-09 Readers:

The international cruise line sector should upgrade its emergency response standards to better fight potential risks created by the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic, a senior executive of China's top cruise line business association said.

Zheng Weihang, vice-president and executive general secretary of the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association, said complete, scientific and rational novel coronavirus pneumonia risk prevention measures and procedures needed to be set up worldwide, and previous disease prevention measures should be upgraded to improve cruise ship and port sanitation and to install quarantine professionals to tackle possible challenges.

The association is mulling new standards for the sector, seeking advice from cruise line companies, experts, travelers and government authorities. Cruise operators Royal Caribbean and Genting have provided their technical facilities, advisories and disease prevention guidelines to the association.

"The cruise line sector has stringent standards on gastrointestinal diseases based on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but no standards for respiratory diseases have been set up," Zheng said. "This is part of the reason for the Diamond Princess' severe infection cases."

The Diamond Princess ordered its 3,711 passengers to stay aboard the cruise ship for two weeks after it returned to Yokohama, Japan, on Feb 3. Nearly 700 passengers aboard were confirmed to have the virus, and six had died by Sunday, according to the NHK, a Japanese news agency.

Zheng urged the sector to release its latest standards on respiratory disease prevention, including detailed specifications for air conditioning systems and emergency prevention measures. Upgrading air conditioning systems is costly but necessary for preventing respiratory diseases, he said.

"The current novel coronavirus pneumonia is already a severe hit for the sector," Zheng said, adding that well-arranged emergency rescue guidelines and procedures were urgently needed.

A cruise ship with over 4,800 people on board that arrived in Tianjin on Jan 25 reported no novel coronavirus pneumonia cases because of efficient testing and strict adherence to prevention measures, according to the cruise line company.

Costa Serena, a cruise ship that sails from Tianjin to Fukuoka and Sasebo in Japan, returned on Jan 25 with 3,706 passengers-including 148 passengers from Hubei province, the center of the ongoing novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak-and 1,100 crew members, a Costa spokesperson said recently.

During the trip, 17 people came down with fever, one of the key symptoms of the disease. On the day of disembarkation, the ship anchored before entering port as requested by the Tianjin government to allow staff from the local health department and customs to board it for inspection, the spokesperson said.

After they tested the 17 people for novel coronavirus infection, a helicopter delivered the samples to police, who sent to them to the local disease prevention authorities. The results of the tests were all negative, the municipal government said.

After the inspection, the government of Binhai New Area, a district of Tianjin, arranged for the passengers from Hubei to be quarantined at a hotel with free medical assistance, food and accommodation. After 14 days, they were all discharged in healthy condition.

"If they had preferred to stay in Tianjin for a few days, we also would have provided as much help as possible for them," said Yang Maorong, director of Binhai New Area.

The company lauded the actions of the governments of Tianjin, Binhai New Area and Dongjiang, a free trade area where the cruise liner is berthed, as "timely and effective".

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/

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