BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Wednesday, August 11th, 2021: Belize received the Carnival Vista today with 2895 guests and 1441 crew on board. As per the normal protocol, upon submission of the Maritime Declaration by the ship in anticipation of its call to Belize the ship reported that it had on board 27 positive cases, 26 of which were crew members and 1 passenger. As a result, the Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, along with his team from the Ministry and the Belize Tourism Board, met virtually with officials from the Carnival Vista on August 10th, 2021 to discuss the notification that persons aboard the vessel tested positive for COVID-19. The discussions provided an update on the current situation, and a thorough reassurance of the protocols put in place on the ship to effectively contain the situation. The team at Carnival noted that all positive cases have been isolated and contact tracing has ended with no additional positive cases found, and that the infected crew and passenger do not pose a threat to guests, crew or frontline workers in Belize.
The facts related to this current situation are as follows:
- Crew are 99.98% vaccinated - Passengers are 96.5% Vaccinated
- All crew members who have tested positive are in isolation
- All persons who have tested positive are vaccinated, most are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. - Contact tracing has been completed (including 400+ tests done on Saturday, 300+ tests done yesterday, and 200+ more done today)
- No further positive cases have been found.
- 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.
After a thorough review of the situation, and after determining that the risk is low, including the fact that CDC is aware of the situation, it was concluded that the situation is contained, and safety protocols are proving effective. Nonetheless, in an abundance of caution after discussions and consultations undertaken with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, an additional protocol will be implemented for today’s call. Effectively, all passengers that have a negative COVID-19 test will be asked to provide proof of this negative test, and for those passengers that do not have proof of negative test will be subject to random testing to be carried out by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Additionally, 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. With this in mind, passengers will be allowed to disembark in Belize and conduct shore excursions as per normal.
Belize's tourism and health officials remain vigilant in order to maintain safety for all stakeholders, bearing in mind the delicate balance between health and the economy. The safety of guests, crew and frontline tourism workers is the highest priority for cruise lines and destinations. The ability to manage and control health-related matters, COVID-19 in particular, is fundamental to the operations of all involved. Cruise lines have been sailing globally throughout the pandemic, and in July, resumed sailing in the Western Caribbean and Belize. The lines have maintained an exceptional safety record, and with the extensive protocols in place, it is arguably one of the safest ways to travel today, amidst the pandemic.
With the stringent protocols, it is inevitable that COVID cases will be detected, but it is imperative that these situations are handled correctly to avoid further spread or unnecessary cancelations. According to our local protocols, passengers will not be allowed to disembark if the total number of positive cases exceeds 2% of the ship's passengers. Belize continues to work to ensure the recovery of the tourism industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, with health and safety of all stakeholders as its priority.