Health Information for Travellers

Stranded ships, stranded people – the humanitarian solution

3 cruise ships in a row in the Bahamas

The coronavirus has taken over our lives alarmingly rapidly. It has taken over our media and facts and myths are being given equal weight. 

Around 9,000 hapless passengers are stranded in about a dozen cruise ships around the world. At time of writing 19 cruise ships are ‘stranded’ off the Australian coast. Some ships were on round the world voyages and had been at sea long before coronavirus struck. Health policies and border restrictions are changing daily and meanwhile these passengers and the thousands of crew who serve them are being demonised. Ships are still being denied entry to ports around the world and cruise companies are working round the clock to find a solution. Two of the ships that are carrying Australians among their passengers are Holland America vessels the Rotterdam and the Zaandam – both vessels tried to disembark passengers and crew and were being excluded from ports around the Americas for weeks until today (April 3) when they have been allowed to disembark in Florida.

A statement from the President of Carnival says “[Ruby Princess] followed to the letter all of the formal health clearance processes that were active at the time – meaning that all travellers arriving from an overseas port were treated in exactly the same way whether they arrived by air or sea”.  (Cruise Weekly April 2)

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia is calling for repatriation of crew – and this appears to have been heard.

These travellers could have been any one of us who love to travel and to cruise – these are the unlucky ones, caught up in an unprecedented disaster. It is easy to pass a problem on to others, to deny responsibility, to blame someone else. There’s been a lot of buck passing between the Federal government and the Department of Home Affairs – notably some unhelpful comments on air by Peter Dutton – the state governments, the health authorities and border security. It is to be hoped that it is not much longer before the situation is resolved humanely.

Cruising contributes around $5billion to the national economy each year and 20,000+ people work in the industry. Will Australia turn away the ships when this over? 

Corona Virus: what you need to know

Mouth Guard with city street in background

The media is full of news, information and misinformation about this virus which is currently at the forefront of most people’s thoughts.
For the latest on what the smart traveller website is advising click on this link.  This will lead to you to travel updates and travel advice on destinations and also to the Cruise Line Information Association health policy which all CLIA ocean member cruise lines are required to follow. 
To find out about the virus you can check the Australian Department of Health’s Corona Virus (COVID-19) Factsheet
There is a health information hotline you can call and a health direct hotline. 
Health Direct will also provide you with important information. 

Hand washing and cruising

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald reminded me of an email I received last week about how important it is to wash our hands. These days you will find disinfectant ‘bubbles’ on cruise ships so that it is easy to disinfect your hands – and that’s great but it is still important to wash hands.
The newspaper today reported on hospitals where there were poor hand washing rates – something that seems so basic, why do people have to be reminded.
Last week I received a news item about Norovirus which it described as ‘the bane of the cruise industry’, though it also occurs after plane trips… and probably train trips as well! In fact anywhere people congregate.

Norovirus (formerly Norwalk agent) is an RNA virus (taxonomic family Caliciviridae).
It is the most infectious microbe known. (It takes as few as 18 virus particles to infect a person via food, water or dirty hands.) Many outbreaks are traced to food that has been handled by one person who is infected.
Typically, symptoms begin with sudden vomiting, abdominal cramps, nausea and watery diarrhoea, although for a lucky few, symptoms can be mild or non-existent. Symptoms usually last 24-72 hours.
Dehydration is the most common complication, especially among the young and elderly, and most people recover without medication and with no long-term complications. 

Regular hand washing is the best way to avoid this happening…watch this video from the WHO – it made me more aware of how I wash my hands, I am sure it will you too!!