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Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

There has been ongoing media coverage of the cases of coronavirus, and the quarantine efforts aboard multiple cruise ships. 

Prof John Oxford, Professor of Virology, Queen Mary University of London, said:

“Cruise ships are very prone to outbreaks of common cold and the vomiting virus, Norovirus.  Invariably the ships are overcrowded and with so many passengers hygiene levels can slip.  I suspect also that the passengers have not been properly quarantined since they have gone through a virus incubation time and infections are still appearing.  There must be a great temptation to interact with other passengers exercising on deck etc. and we know paper masks are not fully effective.  Quarantine on a ship is not as strict as proper quarantine.  In fact it might be impossible to properly quarantine people on a ship.  I am sure that passengers will need to be quarantined properly when they return home.  And that they will be monitored.”


Prof Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine, UEA, said:

“Since the cases of COVID19 were identified on the Diamond Princess about two weeks ago the ship was put into quarantine.  It is well known that certain infections such as influenza and Norovirus can spread rapidly on board cruise ships.  Cruise ships take passengers and crew from all over the world, often passengers are relatively elderly, they spend most of their time on board indoors mixing with others, and then they leave to go home or continue their holidays.

“The primary reason for the quarantine was to stop potentially infectious people then spreading infection further around the world as they continued their holidays or returned home.  In this regard it would appear that the quarantine has so far been successful.

“However, with the high number of cases reported in the past few days it would appear that measures to prevent spread amongst passengers and crew after quarantine was imposed were ineffective.  How and when these new cases acquired their infections is not currently clear so the reasons how and indeed when this transmission occurred in not yet known.  The most likely route is direct person to person transmission when people are close to an infected person, but with currently publicly available information it is not possible to rule out other issues at this stage.  I am sure the Japanese will be investigate this to identify the likely transmission pathways and make sure lessons are learned.

“Given that the safety from infection of remaining passengers and crew cannot be guaranteed, several countries are repatriating their nationals.  Whilst such efforts are understandable and indeed desirable for the currently quarantined passengers, such repatriation is not free from risks.  Considerable care needs to be made to ensure that the passengers do not transmit infection between themselves or to cabin crew during the flight home and once back on home soil they do not act as a focus for the spread of the disease into their home countries – any returning passengers may be put in quarantine on their return.”


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:

The SMC also produced a Factsheet on COVID-19 which is available here:


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MIL OSI United Kingdom