Brazilian health agency confirms cases of COVID-19 in cruise ship

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BRASILIA, Brazil – Passengers on cruise ship MSC Preziosa had to wait more than six hours to disembark in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday due to an inspection by Brazilian health authorities that confirmed 28 cases of COVID-19 on board – 26 passengers and two crew members.

Rio’s health secretariat said in a statement that among those who test positive, people living in Rio or the neighboring region can self-quarantine at home. Others have to isolate themselves in hotels first, and no information has been provided on who will pay the costs.

After the inspection, the MSC Preziosa was authorized by the federal health regulator Anvisa to continue its activities. Other passengers were waiting to board for Bahia. The ship had departed from the Brazilian island of Búzios.

The Associated Press tried to contact MSC to inquire about health measures taken – this is the company’s third ship with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past year – but has not received Answer. Authorities did not say how many people were on board MSC Preziosa or what nationality they were.

Epidemiologist Denise Garrett, who is also vice president of the Brazilian Vaccine Institute Sabin, said the atmosphere on cruise ships “very conducive to transmission, especially now with omicron.”

“There are thousands of people who share the same indoor air,” she said. “It should be avoided at all costs.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the risk of spreading COVID-19 on cruises to the maximum level, saying COVID-19 can easily spread among people on board, even among those fully vaccinated.

Anvisa has recommended the Brazilian Ministry of Health to suspend the travel season. The ministry said in a note that it “will assess appropriate action with ministries related to the issue.”

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