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27 individuals on board Carnival Cruise Line ship check optimistic for COVID-19

Twenty-seven people sailing on Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista ship have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those who tested positive, 26 are crew members and one person is a passenger, according to a news release from the Belize Tourism Board Wednesday.

Carnival spokesperson AnneMarie Matthews confirmed the positive cases and additional info in the tourism board’s statement to USA TODAY.

Matthews said positive COVID cases were first announced last Wednesday during the previous cruise that disembarked last Saturday in Galveston, Texas. It’s unclear how many people were positive at that time.

“We are managing a small number of COVID cases on board Vista,” Matthews said. “Guests on board both the previous and current sailing were informed and, specifically on the current sailing, the Captain has made at least two announcements related to this.”

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The Carnival Vista cruise ship was carrying 2,895 passengers and 1,441 crew members when it arrived in Belize, according to the release. Typically, the ship can carry 3,934 passengers and 1,450 crew members.

On the ship, 99.98% of crew members are vaccinated, and 96.5% of passengers are vaccinated, the tourism board said, noting that all of the people who tested positive are vaccinated. Most are asymptomatic, and a few have mild symptoms.

COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, but they’re not 100% effective in preventing infection. A small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 if they’re exposed to the virus that causes it, according to the CDC. However, vaccinated people who have breakthrough infections are much less likely to get severely sick or die.

Contact tracing was completed on the ship, with no additional positive tests, and all who tested positive were isolated.

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“Additional protocols have been put in place, including increased mask-wearing indoors, use of N95 masks by crew, crew social areas have been closed, and as early as the next departure, all guests will require a negative rapid test, regardless of whether they are vaccinated,” the Belize Tourism Board said.

As part of “normal protocol” Carnival reported the positive cases to Belize upon arrival in the Belize City port. Belize’s Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations then met with Carnival Vista officials virtually Monday to discuss the cases and the situation.

The tourism board determined that risk was low and noted that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is aware of the situation on board. Other passengers were allowed to disembark and go on shore excursions as scheduled.

However, an additional protocol was added for the port call in Belize Wednesday. All passengers were asked to provide proof of a negative COVID test, and those passengers without proof of a negative test were subject to “random testing” conducted by Belize’s Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The health agency also inspected the ship.

The Carnival Vista cruises at sea. Carnival Vista measures 133,500 tons, 1,055 feet long and has a guest capacity of almost 4,000 passengers.

“We are pleased to inform that our personnel from the Ministry of Health and Wellness also carried out an inspection of the protocols on board the Carnival Vista this morning and are satisfied that they have been able to verify that the measures put in place by the ship are meticulous and deemed highly effective,” the tourism board said.

The CDC said on its website tracking cruise ships and COVID that it “has investigated and ship remains under observation.”

Starting last Saturday, Carnival began requiring passengers to wear their masks in indoor areas. Starting this Saturday, all passengers will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to board.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Carnival cruise ship COVID: 27 positive cases on Carnival Vista

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