Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

Think you’ve read this article before? Well, you haven’t – not quite. But Covid-19 outbreaks on cruise ships are now such a regular occurrence that you would be forgiven for getting a hefty dose of de ja vu after reading this headline.

Today’s cruise ship outbreak is on the Coral Princess, where over 100 people are currently sick, with many isolating on board the vessel in Brisbane, according to 7NEWSBrisbane. Others are being being evacuated to isolate at home or in other accommodation and currently, 1 in 20 people who were aboard the ship are known to have Covid-19.

A Princess Cruises spokesperson told ABC News Australia “We are adhering to comprehensive protocols that were agreed in conjunction with federal and state authorities and we are confident that they are working effectively.”

The spokesperson added: “The health and well-being of our guests and crew remain our main priority and the protocols being followed on board are working.”

However, the spokesperson did not elaborate on the metrics by which the effectiveness of their protocols are measured, or whether a 5% rate of infection so far among passengers and crew would be considered a success.

After successfully controlling the virus for much of the early stages of the pandemic, Australia has been rocked by soaring Covid-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths in recent months. Queensland, the province where the Coral Princess is currently located, recorded over 4,800 daily cases with 41,000 active cases documented.

Princess Cruises were the unfortunate hosts of some of the pandemic’s earliest superspreader events. The Coral Princess itself had an outbreak in early 2020 where at least 2 people died before the ship was permitted to dock in Miami. The Diamond Princess had a large outbreak in February 2020, before much was known about Covid-19, resulting in several deaths. However, the company is not the only one to be massively affected by the pandemic, with hundreds of outbreaks on cruise ships all over the world having been documented over the last couple of years.

Many cruise ship companies have instituted vaccination and testing requirements, but with newer Covid-19 variants increasingly able to cause infections even in vaccinated people, these measures seem to be unable to prevent significant outbreaks onboard.

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