A cruise line has reintroduced mandatory mask wearing on ships after a spike in Covid cases – with health officials across the country recommending face coverings.
Carnival Cruises management said in a statement that “out of an abundance of caution,” masks would revert to “adapting to the evolving public health situation.”
Passengers must now wear them on board in all indoor public areas, outside when in large groups where physical distancing is not possible and also when boarding or disembarking.
Another cruise ship, The Majestic Princess, sailed into Sydney last week with 800 infected passengers on board, sparking fears that further cases could spread through NSW.
Australia is in the middle of another Covid wave, prompting health officials in several states to urge the public to wear face masks indoors and on public transport.
While masks are always recommended in crowded places or on public transport, officials are now renewing the call for people to wear them in the face of rising infection rates.
Carnival Cruises has reintroduced mandatory mask wearing on ships after a spike in Covid cases
Australia is once again in the midst of a massive Covid outbreak and health officials have urged the public to wear face masks indoors and on public transport (pictured, Sydney commuters)
While masks are always recommended in crowded places or on public transport, officials are now renewing the call for people to wear them in the face of rising infection rates
Carnival Cruise passengers are not required to wear masks while eating or drinking.
“We can confirm that mask wearing is being implemented on board all Carnival Corporation branded vessels operating in Australia and the region as an additional measure of security in light of the current covid-19 rate in the general community,” said a Carnival Cruise spokesperson.
“Over the past two years, all industries, including ours, have tightened their health and safety protocols. At the same time, a majority of the population is now vaccinated.
“At a time when Australia is facing a rapid increase in COVID cases, it is critical that everyone does their part to keep the community safe, and we thank our guests for complying with our requirements.
“For all ships in Carnival Corporation’s fleet operating in the Australian region, this means we are going beyond current guidelines.”
It comes after The Majestic Princess sailed into Circular Quay at 6am last Saturday before all of its 3,300 guests and 1,300 crew could disembark – around 800 of whom were infected with Covid.
Cruise line bosses said cases showed mild symptoms or were asymptomatic and encouraged them to take private transportation so they could self-isolate at home.
Top health experts were outraged, claiming the move will lead to more cases, put more pressure on hospitals and cause more deaths in the community.
Jimmy Barnes was set to sign copies of his new album Blue Christmas at the Penrith Panthers Leagues Club on November 26. But the 66-year-old Cold Chisel founder stopped performing for public safety reasons.
Outraged Australian Medical Association president Steve Robson tweeted: ‘Here’s a prediction I’m going to put money behind.
“If the major public hospitals on the East Coast aren’t overwhelmed with patients and facing staff shortages during the holiday season, I’ll donate $1,000 to charity.”
Professor Robson is a staunch supporter of Covid mandates, speaking out when the federal government made the decision in September to shorten the isolation period, before scrapping it altogether in October.
He also supports the use of face masks, even though it is no longer mandatory, as weary residents are eager to leave the pandemic behind and all the exhausting mandates behind them.
Another cruise ship, The Majestic Princess, sailed into Sydney last week with 800 infected passengers on board, sparking fears of further spread of cases across NSW
While there are no new official health regulations, authorities across the country are becoming increasingly cautious following an 80 percent increase in cases in some states as mutated variants of the virus are rampant.
New South Wales saw 27,869 new cases in the week leading up to November 17, up from 16,636 the week before – which was a 63 per cent increase in itself – prompted a warning from Chief Public Health Officer Kerry Chant.
Victoria sees similar levels, with 20,398 positive cases recorded in the past week.
The wave of infections has prompted Australian rock music legend Jimmy Barnes to cancel an in-person performance in Western Sydney.
The Scottish-born singer was set to sign copies of his new album Blue Christmas at the Penrith Panthers Leagues Club on November 26.
But the 66-year-old Cold Chisel founder dropped the gig for public safety reasons, The Western Weekender reported.
Australia, Spain and the UK are among the only countries where there is no compulsory isolation for people who test positive – with most between five and seven.
BA.5, BA.2.75, XBB and BQ.1 are among the strains that circulate in the community, causing infections and evading immunity to vaccinations and previous infections.
Meanwhile, travelers heading to the Northern Hemisphere were advised by NSW Health to ensure their Covid-19 and flu vaccinations were up to date.
But while the number of infections is rising rapidly, they are well below this year’s high Omicron peaks in January, April and July.
In these months, the seven-day moving average was 47,543, 21,000 and 14,700 case numbers respectively.
Nation Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said on Monday that this fourth Omicron wave devastating Australia will peak in the coming weeks and likely decline sharply – as medical data from the recent wave in Singapore suggests.
However, another expert warned not to rely on trends abroad.
“The waves of COVID don’t happen in the same way everywhere,” said Nancy Baxter, the head of the University of Melbourne’s School of Population And Global Health.
“It’s not like the old days, when you had Delta in India, then in the UK, and you could see it go through the world and eventually come to Australia.”
“What this surge has shown us is that as much as we’d like COVID to be over, it certainly isn’t,” said Danielle McMullen, vice president of the Australian Medical Association.
“We need to take important steps in the way we practice medicine in hospitals and other healthcare facilities to make sure we keep people safe.”
In the past week, 39 deaths were related to Covid – with a further 37 people in the NSW ICU.
Last week, Queensland residents were told to wear face masks in some environments as the state raises Covid alert levels as it enters a ‘fourth wave’ of the pandemic.
The number of hospitalizations more than doubled in the past week to 205, while 73 people have died and 21,761 new cases have been registered since the beginning of October.
Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk says the virus alert level will rise from green to orange last Thursday.
That means facial markings are recommended in indoor environments where people can’t maintain social distancing, including public transport, in healthcare facilities and around elderly or frail people.
CARNIVAL CRUISE COVID REQUIREMENTS
- 95 percent of guests over the age of 12 must be vaccinated, and we only accommodate guests with medical exemptions within 5 percent
- 100 percent of the crew is fully vaccinated
- All passengers and crew must submit a negative COVID test before boarding
- All passengers must complete health declarations before boarding
- All guests and crew must wear masks at all times when indoors (except while eating or drinking), when outside and unable to socially distance, and on business transfers (tenders and buses)
- Masks are mandatory while boarding and disembarking
- Regular and proactive testing of all crew members
- Daily and thorough cleaning of the ship
- Free rapid antigen tests available to all guests
- Minimum isolation period of five days (seven days in NZ) for positive cases with 24/7 medical support
- Guests who contract COVID can only come out of isolation after submitting a negative Rapid Antigen Test
- Close contacts should test daily before leaving their room. They are also required to wear a mask, eat and drink in separate areas from other guests
- COVID positive guests will be separated from other guests during disembarkation
- All COVID positive guests are being advised and assisted to travel privately to the accommodation of their choice to continue the isolation