U.S. CDC eases warnings for cruises as new COVID infections fall

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased its warnings for cruise ships by a notch from the highest level, seven weeks after it advised Americans against going on cruises.

The health agency made the decision to reduce the warning to level three from four in response to a decline in onboard COVID-19 cases, but still recommended that people who were not up to date with vaccines avoid cruises.

The CDC in December increased the warning to level four due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant that also forced cruise operators to cancel sailings.

COVID-19 infections are decreasing in the United States, with 168,485 new infections reported on average each day, or about 21% of the peak, with the highest daily average reported on Jan. 14.

Trade association Cruise Lines International Association said the CDC’s latest decision was “a step in the right direction”.

Royal Caribbean Group RCL.N, which also owns Celebrity Cruises, earlier this month said it had carried nearly 1.3 million guests since mid-2021, with around 2,500 guests testing positive for COVID-19.

“We believe we are past COVID-19 in terms of the overall impact on our business,” Royal Caribbean Group Chief Executive Officer Jason Liberty said in the beginning of February.

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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