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In racing the officials would announce that this was a “false start” and call everyone back to the line.

 

It will be interesting to see what the Norwegian government does.

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And another one... one COVID case amongst the passengers of the Gauguin.

https://www.rfi.fr/fr/asie-pacifique/20200803-cas-coronavirus-confirmé-à-bord-dun-bateau-croisière-en-polynésie-française
https://www.pgcruises.com/travel-advisory

The Paul Gauguin (Ponant) restarted with international passengers on July 29, with a 10-day out of Papeete that left last Thursday.


French Polynesia reopened to tourists on flights from Europe and the U.S. on July 15th, without a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Required was a negative COVID test done 3 days before departure, followed by a self-administered test to be done 4 days after arrival. This was controlled by the Gauguin and passengers were also subject to a health screen at embarkation. It’s this combined protocol that I’ve been watching closely...

 

According to currently more detailed French media reports, the ship had a mix of residents and tourists onboard. It was a tourist that came up positive via that follow-up screen (not a crew member.). The ship returned to Papeete, where the infected passenger and her cabin-sharing relative were retested again and taken into quarantine off-ship. Passengers remain confined to their cabins onboard, were all retested on Sunday, and an announcement should be made later today as to what will be done next.


Bora Bora had not had any COVID cases at all up to now, but all passengers disembarked for the day... so full contact tracing is expected to be done, according to one of the French media articles that I read.

 

This incident will have interesting ramifications:

IF they hold all passengers and crew in quarantine for 14 days AND no new positives emerge, then this two-fold “early detection” strategy can work in reopening some more regional cruising sooner rather than later.
If not, then we really can’t hope for an early phased restart.

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4 hours ago, snowglobe said:

And another one... one COVID case amongst the passengers of the Gauguin.

https://www.rfi.fr/fr/asie-pacifique/20200803-cas-coronavirus-confirmé-à-bord-dun-bateau-croisière-en-polynésie-française
https://www.pgcruises.com/travel-advisory

The Paul Gauguin (Ponant) restarted with international passengers on July 29, with a 10-day out of Papeete that left last Thursday.


French Polynesia reopened to tourists on flights from Europe and the U.S. on July 15th, without a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Required was a negative COVID test done 3 days before departure, followed by a self-administered test to be done 4 days after arrival. This was controlled by the Gauguin and passengers were also subject to a health screen at embarkation. It’s this combined protocol that I’ve been watching closely...

 

According to currently more detailed French media reports, the ship had a mix of residents and tourists onboard. It was a tourist that came up positive via that follow-up screen (not a crew member.). The ship returned to Papeete, where the infected passenger and her cabin-sharing relative were retested again and taken into quarantine off-ship. Passengers remain confined to their cabins onboard, were all retested on Sunday, and an announcement should be made later today as to what will be done next.


Bora Bora had not had any COVID cases at all up to now, but all passengers disembarked for the day... so full contact tracing is expected to be done, according to one of the French media articles that I read.

 

This incident will have interesting ramifications:

IF they hold all passengers and crew in quarantine for 14 days AND no new positives emerge, then this two-fold “early detection” strategy can work in reopening some more regional cruising sooner rather than later.
If not, then we really can’t hope for an early phased restart.

Oh no!  I'm so sorry to hear this!

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Posted (edited)

https://www.tahiti-infos.com/Test-Covid-positif-confirme-pour-la-touriste-americaine-sur-le-Paul-Gauguin_a193149.html

 

It’s now been confirmed that the infected passenger is one of a few Americans who travelled earlier in the week to Papeete to board the cruise. She was tested negative 3 days before she left the U.S..

 

She was probably infected 0-5 days before leaving home. She could have been in contact with an infected person at a grocery store, or doing last minute running around as we all do before a trip. She could have been infected at LAX. Who knows... with the U.S. having uncontrolled COVID-19 community transmission, it’s really not important where or how she came in contact with the virus before arriving in French Polynesia.

 

However, it will matter to the French authorities, and to every other country who is considering allowing American tourists to return, that she very likely arrived already infected and pre-symptomatic before her second test was done.

 

Almost all of the ship’s passengers right now are residents of French Polynesia, which has literally been COVID-free for weeks, after having very few cases to begin with. Many onboard went to visit family members on Bora Bora. Some are literally just a couple of kms from home, stuck on the ship in Papeete right now, who at best will need to strictly self-isolate for 14 days if they are allowed to disembark in the next day or so and return to their homes.

 

Island nations do not have the medical resources to respond to large outbreaks. Tahiti has a large hospital, Bora Bora does not. Returning residents who go back to their homes on other islands than Tahiti, and those exposed residents and locals who may later develop a positive test or symptoms, or draw a losing ticket and become very sick with COVID, may not have easy access to adequate care.

 

I really hope that the testing and containment was enacted quickly enough; that this passenger was not one of the rare “superspreaders”;  that local contact tracing does its job well; that no community transmission takes hold because of this (as is feared in Norway); that everyone else onboard tests negative today; and are allowed to disembark quickly and go home to self-isolate (residents) or go into quarantine (tourists who will eventually need to travel home.)

 

On a positive note, her cabin-sharing family member tested negative again on Sunday, so if all else goes well, this could be a positive event in showing what can work in a manageable way.

Edited by snowglobe

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Posted (edited)

An update on the Paul Gauguin:
More detailed (and well balanced) info is now available in local media:

https://www.radio1.pf/paul-gauguin-les-passagers-en-septaine-a-terre-le-protocole-sanitaire-renforce/

https://www.tahiti-infos.com/Les-passagers-du-Gauguin-debarques-et-confines_a193190.html

 

None of the other passengers and crew tested positive from Sunday’s testing, and they have been allowed to start to disembark the Gauguin Monday night.

Here, IMO, are the salient facts to note:

 

The infected passenger is a 22-year-old travelling with her mother. They arrived from the States last Sunday, before boarding on Thursday. They’d been diligently following the mandatory masking and social distancing protocols, and were also diligent about doing the required self-test and dropping it off as instructed. They 100% complied with all of the conditions that were imposed on their travel and their cruise -- they did their part to mitigate risk.


The requirement for a test to be done 72 hours before boarding the departure flight is not perfect - but we all knew that already. It’s acknowledged that she could have easily been infected in the interval, or that it could have been a false-negative. The required self-test done 4 days after arrival did its job. However, it did not prevent her from embarking the ship. Because of this, a 3rd test on the eve of embarkation is now going to be required, administered by the authorities.

 

The sanitary protocols onboard ship were strictly adhered to, and worked. Tracing identified 24 ‘at risk’ crew and passengers that had been in contact with the pair (out of 340.) The pair’s shoreside day on Bora-Bora, with the use of a rental car and a stop at a restaurant, as well as their time in Tahiti, could reliably be contact-traced as well.

 

The authorities expressed confidence in their testing, tracing and isolating policy. They feel that the E.T.I.S. system (https://www.etis.pf/en/), that they have put in place to manage the health screening and monitoring of the tourists on the islands, functioned as intended. They felt that the risk of exposure had been minimal (not zero.)

 

All passengers and crew that tested negative must now adhere to a 7-day quarantine, to end with retesting to done at the end of this period. The monitored ‘confinement’ must be done at home for the residents, or in designated accommodation for the other passengers. All had to sign an ‘honour-bound’ quarantine compliance agreement. Passengers who live on Tahiti were the first to be allowed to disembark and go directly home on Monday night. Residents of the other islands are expected to disembark to return home today. The crew shall remain onboard. 

 

The interesting thing about all of this is that this incident has happened in a “closed environment” of sorts - with French Polynesia being essentially free of community transmission. What remains to be watched, especially in the next 7-10 days, is if the islands remain cluster-free, and if none of the passengers and crew return a positive result when retested in 7 days.

 

This could bring hope that some cruising can safely resume. It can also highlight a definite advantage for the smaller ships cruising model. 🙂 

Edited by snowglobe

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Thanks for the information, snowglobe. As you say it will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of weeks. 
regarding your point about a possible ‘false negative’ test, I heard a virologist say on TV that at the very beginning of their infection someone who has been infected can test negative because they haven’t yet got enough of the virus in their system to be picked up by the test.

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Grandma Cruising said:

Thanks for the information, snowglobe. As you say it will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of weeks. 
regarding your point about a possible ‘false negative’ test, I heard a virologist say on TV that at the very beginning of their infection someone who has been infected can test negative because they haven’t yet got enough of the virus in their system to be picked up by the test.

Yes that was emphasised today in the Scottish Government briefing.  It made me realise testing cruisers before they board is almost pointless, it only catches those who have fully developed Covid at the time of testing so anyone carrying or in early stages will not be identified.

In relation to contact testing, we have been advised, if we have been identified as being a potential contact ie been in the same restaurant as them at the same time in relative proximity, even if we get a negative test result, we have to self isolate for 14 days.

The Gaugin and Hurtigruten situations just reinforce how hopeless it is to think about cruising for some time to come

Edited by uktog

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12 minutes ago, uktog said:

Yes that was emphasised today in the Scottish Government briefing.  It made me realise testing cruisers before they board is almost pointless, it only catches those who have fully developed Covid at the time of testing so anyone carrying or in early stages will not be identified.

In relation to contact testing, we have been advised, if we have been identified as being a potential contact ie been in the same restaurant as them at the same time in relative proximity, even if we get a negative test result, we have to self isolate for 14 days.

The Gaugin and Hurtigruten situations just reinforce how hopeless it is to think about cruising for some time to come

 

Totally agree.

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Posted (edited)

That’s exactly correct about the viral load’s detectability and the reliability of testing before travel. The articles had not mentioned that, so I did not add it in. Also, the media keeps referring to the young person as being “asymptomatic”, rather than the likely more accurate pre- or mildly-symptomatic (like headache or tiredness attributed to jetlag.)

 

I think that the most significant take-away right now from this incident is the absolute importance of 100% compliance, with the required sanitary protocols to minimize risk.

 

With the Hurtigruten apology, combined with the compliance angle... it currently does not look good for mass market cruising. I’m sure that titatinium-clad legal waivers are furiously being crafted right now to cover all levels of who/what the industry touches.

 

The one encouraging thing is that French Polynesia is *willing* to approach having cruise ships in its waters, with a measured, adaptable, and science-driven policy.

Edited by snowglobe

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Posted (edited)

As for Azamara, I think that the brand would have much to learn from the Gauguin’s protocols and French Polynesia’s approach. However, it seems like this kind of corporate policy would be decided higher up by RCL, and likely limited to what can be rolled out across all the brands instead.
 

Personally, I think that Azamara could shine in a cruising environment where COVID-19 remains a cyclical part of public health for a longish while to come. Can you imagine having a brand differentiation between Celebrity and Azamara which would include the same “Covid-free” small-ship marketing that French Polynesia is striving to project as a destination?

Edited by snowglobe

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Why would any Covid free nation accept a cruise ship of guests who arrived by plane until there’s a vaccine?  
Never mind a small nation New Zealand is Covid free and they have their borders firmly locked and rightfully so. 

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1 hour ago, uktog said:

Why would any Covid free nation accept a cruise ship of guests who arrived by plane until there’s a vaccine?  
Never mind a small nation New Zealand is Covid free and they have their borders firmly locked and rightfully so. 

$$$ ?

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Here's a different perspective:  United Airlines is starting flights from SFO to Tahiti today and on a live presentation with Tahiti Tourism they stated the following:

  • They reported the Health Protocol is Working.
  • They consider the PG incident as a positive outcome of the Plan.
  • Testing procedure has been strengthened by adding the Testing on the day of boarding.

Isn't this how Science is supposed to work?  You develop a Hypothesis based on the available evidence; you Test the hypothesis and analyze the results; you Refine the hypothesis and continue testing.  How will we ever get to safe cruising unless protocols like these are testing in the wild?

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Testing on the day of boarding only catches those with a developed case not those developing the virus. If we have been in contact with a covid carrier (ok in this basis a known carrier) we have to quarantine for 14 days from contact EVEN if we return a negative Covid test. This is because we can be carrying but not fully developed the disease and we would during development be highly infectious. 
 

We get back to cruising when there a valid vaccine system in place amongst travelling nations. Until then we all need to concentrate on managing and fighting the situation on our own door steps. That’s how science is working here. 

Edited by uktog

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Posted (edited)

The way that French Polynesia is doing it is that the testing on the eve of boarding is the 3rd test.
 

On this one topic, I agree with Jazzbeau, with one MAJOR caveat:

This set of protocols may only work for French Polynesia, because of the particular set of advantages that comes with being more of a “niche market” type of travel destination.
 

But it’s definitely one to watch... and any hopes may be completely dashed if this one passenger infected others, as we may see in the next 10 days or so.

Edited by snowglobe

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8 hours ago, snowglobe said:

The way that French Polynesia is doing it is that the testing on the eve of boarding is the 3rd test.
 

On this one topic, I agree with Jazzbeau, with one MAJOR caveat:

This set of protocols may only work for French Polynesia, because of the particular set of advantages that comes with being more of a “niche market” type of travel destination.
 

But it’s definitely one to watch... and any hopes may be completely dashed if this one passenger infected others, as we may see in the next 10 days or so.

Eve of boarding is even worse.  You are going to get people carrying the virus in undetected. It doesn’t sound like they’ve got robust science behind them providing advice.  They’d need to self isolate for at least a week after arrival to be sure. Desperate for the mighty dollar but a flawed experiment imho and I’m sure the experts in the larger cruiselines will see it for what it is. 

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23 hours ago, snowglobe said:

That’s exactly correct about the viral load’s detectability and the reliability of testing before travel. The articles had not mentioned that, so I did not add it in. Also, the media keeps referring to the young person as being “asymptomatic”, rather than the likely more accurate pre- or mildly-symptomatic (like headache or tiredness attributed to jetlag.)

 

I think that the most significant take-away right now from this incident is the absolute importance of 100% compliance, with the required sanitary protocols to minimize risk.

 

With the Hurtigruten apology, combined with the compliance angle... it currently does not look good for mass market cruising. I’m sure that titatinium-clad legal waivers are furiously being crafted right now to cover all levels of who/what the industry touches.

 

The one encouraging thing is that French Polynesia is *willing* to approach having cruise ships in its waters, with a measured, adaptable, and science-driven policy.

Totally agree!

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