Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced that its member lines have adopted and begun employing enhanced screening procedures on a global basis to help prevent the introduction and/or spread of Influenza A (H1N1, previously called “swine flu”) on board cruise ships. Under the new CLIA health screening protocols, all passengers will be required to complete and sign a written questionnaire prior to boarding a CLIA member cruise ship anywhere in the world.
“The health and safety of all cruise passengers is of utmost importance to all Cruise Lines International Association member lines,” said Terry Dale, CLIA president and CEO. “The cruise industry is taking these proactive steps out of an abundance of caution to identify, isolate and treat any suspect Influenza A (H1N1) cases as appropriate. We will continue to review these protocols and the need for any further actions as necessary.”
All passengers scheduled to board CLIA member line cruise ships will be required to complete the new public health questionnaire prior to boarding at any port. Under the enhanced screening protocols, CLIA member lines will perform a secondary screening if a passenger reports on the questionnaire flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat, or contact with a confirmed Influenza A (H1N1) case. Medical personnel at each cruise line will make case by case decisions regarding the boarding of these passengers. Passengers will not be permitted to travel if they exhibit influenza-like-illness or meet the suspect case conditions for Influenza A (H1N1) as defined by CDC. All other passengers will be permitted to travel. The industry instituted similar global screening protocols in the past during the outbreak of SARS in Asia.
Dale noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Influenza A (H1N1) is already widespread and that the public health priority today is to mitigate the further spread of the virus. He said that the enhanced health screening protocols announced today were designed to do just that while protecting passengers, crew and ports of call.
Further, medical staff will isolate and treat passengers and crew with flu symptoms, if such a situation arises while the cruise ship is under way. CLIA member lines that operate internationally will maintain appropriate medical support equipment and medications, including anti-viral medications that are effective in treating flu, including Influenza A (H1N1).
The new screening protocols augment comprehensive vessel sanitation and public health surveillance procedures already employed by the industry, and subject to inspection by CDC in the U.S., that reduce the potential for transmission of contagious diseases including Influenza A (H1N1). These practices include the use of recommended disinfectants, surveillance and treatment of illnesses like influenza, isolation of sick passengers, food safety sanitation protocols, and consultation with public health authorities.