How to Adapt Cruise Ship Safety Measures for COVID-19
VIKAND is exhibiting at Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo as a partner of the Health & Hygiene Zone. They are a leading global maritime health solutions provider offering healthcare and air and surface decontamination solutions to the industry. In this article, VIKAND explores how the cruise industry has been and can continue adapting cruise ship safety measures for COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many industries to evaluate what protocols, policies and equipment they have in place to safeguard their customers and staff. Two industries that were impacted heavily were hospitality and transportation, specifically within the maritime sector.
The cruise industry has powered through this challenging time by rapidly instilling more healthcare measures on board. However, what have these cruise ship safety measures been and will they be sufficient to combat future COVID-19 variants?
What steps have cruise lines taken to improve cruise ship safety measures?
Sailing or working on board a ship means guests and crew will be residing in close quarters. Therefore, the importance of preventing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 on board is paramount. As a result, the cruise industry has taken huge strides in ensuring the safety of both its passengers and crew.
1. Establishing public health roles on board
Some cruise lines have started to reinforce their medical teams with a Public Health Officer who is responsible for overseeing all COVID-19 safety measures on board. This role specifically focuses on implementing COVID-19 procedures, working with local port authorities, finding new crew members who have been quarantined, and more.
2. Continuing to screen for COVID-19
Though a vaccine has been developed and distributed, not everyone has received their dose(s). Cruise ships still require screening for guests and crew before embarkation, either conducted on-site or at home. Regular screenings can help reduce the chances of a single positive case and prevent it from causing a vessel-wide outbreak.
VIKAND is working with Fred. Olsen and healthcare provider Bupa to provide COVID-19 PCR testing for passengers and crew. This has already been adopted on Borealis, which recently completed its first international cruise from the UK. The PCR return testing program complies with pre-arrival testing requirements for the UK. This overall provides passengers with a safe and seamless process.
3. Ensuring ample amount of medical supplies & updated equipment
Since the beginning of the pandemic, onboard medical facilities have worked to ensure that there will be no shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Cruise lines have also ensured they have the latest medical equipment in place. The pre-pandemic order for PPE has doubled to prepare for possible outbreaks, as well as the order for biomedical equipment, including ventilators. Biomedical services, such as equipment maintenance, have also been in demand.
To provide support with this, VIKAND was appointed by Marella Cruises, a TUI Group brand, to manage its medical operations on board its fleet of cruise ships. As a result, VIKAND is responsible for managing all aspects of onboard medical care, as well as supporting Marella’s regulatory compliance. VIKAND’s services provided to Marella include medical staff, 24/7 dedicated shoreside medical support, policies and procedure, regulatory compliance, case and claims management, medical escorts, formulary and supplies, biomedical equipment management and more.
Aside from medical supplies and equipment, cruise ships have also gone one step further by implementing preventative measures. These include upgrading their HVAC systems to clean indoor air and surfaces of viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants.
How can the cruise industry continue to move forward?
Vaccines are helping some countries control the pandemic. However, it will likely take years before every country has access to an adequate supply of vaccines. This means that the cruise sector will need to continue to address the effects of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.
In addition to encouraging vaccinations, VIKAND recommends abiding by the new public health standard as much as possible as well as researching the latest innovations in COVID-19 prevention and monitoring the trends within the cruise industry.
VIKAND will be exhibiting in the dedicated Health & Hygiene Zone at Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo. Find out all about the next event here.