State Department advises US citizens to avoid cruise ship travel, cites coronavirus risk

In this image from video, provided by the California National Guard, a helicopter carrying airmen with the 129th Rescue Wing flies over the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California Thursday, March 5, 2020. (California National Guard via AP)
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(WTLV) — The U.S. Department of State on Sunday advised citizens, especially those with underlying health conditions, to not travel via cruise ship, citing an increased risk of spreading COVID-19, more commonly known as coronavirus.

The department's full statement posted to its website can be read below:

"U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship. CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. 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.

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This is a fluid situation. CDC notes that older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease. This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships. Passengers with plans to travel by cruise ship should contact their cruise line companies directly for further information and continue to monitor the Travel.state.gov website and see the latest information from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/cruise/index.html."

The warning comes as the Grand Princess cruise ship is prohibited from docking in South Florida after passengers aboard were told two crew members are being tested for coronavirus.

It's believed those crew previously were on board the Grand Princess ship, which for days has been forbidden to dock in San Francisco after at least 20 positive coronavirus cases were reported. At least one person among those cases died.

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