CDC investigating Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas with 55 COVID cases on board

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas ship as it continues to sail with more than 50 COVID cases on board.

“The CDC is investigating the recent increase in COVID-19 cases identified on Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) Odyssey of the Seas,” CDC spokesman David Daigle told USA TODAY on Thursday. “All cases appear to be mild or asymptomatic. Additionally, there have been no COVID-19-related hospitalizations, medical evacuations, ventilator use, or deaths from this vessel.”

Fifty-five passengers and crew have tested positive for COVID-19 on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship, which departed Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday for an eight-night Caribbean voyage, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told USA TODAY on Wednesday.

The health agency is working closely with Royal Caribbean and will “consider several factors” before marking the ship in “red” status, in which case it will have to return to port.

From Thursday afternoon, Odyssey of the Seas was rated “Yellow” status meaning “the CDC has investigated and the vessel remains under observation”.

Odyssey of the Seas is currently sailing in the Caribbean and is scheduled to return to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.

The ship, which briefly returned to port on Sunday disembark a passenger with COVID-19, carries 3,587 passengers and 1,599 crew members. With mandatory vaccinations for all crew members and guests 12 and older, 95% of those on board were fully vaccinated, according to Royal Caribbean.

“During routine weekly testing of our fully immunized crew members, some test results came back positive for COVID-19,” the company said in a statement shared by spokesperson Lyan Sierra-Caro late Tuesday evening. “Close contacts were quickly identified and they were each immediately quarantined.”

Passengers and crew who have tested positive and their close contacts are being quarantined, according to Royal Caribbean. Those who have tested positive are either mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic and monitored by a medical team on board.

Royal Caribbean announced on Wednesday that the cruise will not stop in Curacao or Aruba as planned.

“The decision was made with the islands and out of an abundance of caution due to the current trend of cases in destination communities and the presence of COVID-19 positive cases on board…representing 1.1% of the community on board” , according to a statement shared by Sierra-Caro.

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Weekly crew member testing is one of the protocols on Royal Caribbean’s ships, part of a “multi-layered package of comprehensive health and safety measures,” the company said. Other protocols include enhanced cleaning, a vaccine requirement for passengers and crew, and the use of masks, among others.

“In an abundance of caution for the well-being of our guests and crew, adjustments have been made to the schedule of Odyssey of the Seas shows and activities onboard sailing from December 18,” Royal said. Caribbean in the statement shared by Sierra. -Caro.

A dock worker waits for Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas to arrive at its Port Everglades mooring point on June 10, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The CDC worked with global public health experts and industry partners to learn more about omicron, Daigle said. “We are still learning how easily it spreads, the severity of the disease it causes, and the effectiveness of available vaccines and drugs against it.”

He continued that “cruise travel is not a zero-risk activity.”

The likelihood of contracting COVID-19 on cruise ships is “high because the virus spreads easily between close people on board ships,” Daigle said.

The CDC advises people who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to avoid cruise travel and advises travelers to get vaccinated if they are eligible.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: CDC investigating Odyssey of the Seas, cruise ship with 55 COVID cases

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