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Singapore restarting cruises: Boost for economy, but not plain sailing

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Singapore restarting cruises: Boost for economy, but not plain sailing

source: https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/restarting-cruises-boost-for-economy-but-not-plain-sailing

It may sound like a good way to help the economy, but it could easily be a disaster waiting to happen.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has announced that it will allow pilot "cruises to nowhere" from next month, with safety measures in place.

This sounds fine, in theory. It's true that Singapore risks harming its economy if it does not return to some form of normalcy. But when it comes to cruises, the risks may outweigh potential rewards.

Consider what cruises entail in the first place. Passengers eat, they take part in activities, and they generally relax outside of their cabins. Even accepting that each cruise ship carries only half the number of passengers it can normally accommodate, it would still host more than 1,000 people over a period of days.

One of the participating ships in the pilot project has a normal capacity of more than 3,300 and the other has a maximum capacity of 4,900. And that is without counting the crew.

Those on board are supposed to wear masks. But we know that while masks do reduce the transmission rate, they do not completely stop the coronavirus from spreading. And passengers will not be masked during meals.

There is also the risk of transmitting the virus through common surfaces passengers touch while they help themselves to the food. And even if the food is served at the counter by crew, there are still many possible contact points.

Do you stop passengers from touching walls and handrails when they go for a stroll on deck? Or from talking to one another when taking part in activities? There are just so many possibilities for Covid-19 transmission.

One might argue that the same may be said of people in shopping malls or supermarkets. But they do not mingle for several days. Nor are they stuck together in an enclosed space, interacting through on-board activities.

People excited or having a good time tend to talk louder, increasing the transmission risk.

Expert opinion on the risks posed by such cruises is divided.

Professor Dale Fisher, a senior infectious diseases consultant at National University Hospital, and Professor Ooi Eng Eong of Duke-NUS Medical School's emerging infectious diseases programme see the move as another step towards normalising life here.

"It's not only about prioritising the safest activities; there is a balance with social and economic factors," said Prof Fisher.

Prof Ooi agreed that it is important to balance the risks against the livelihoods of many, adding: "It would be the same as any staycation."

Dr Asok Kurup, who chairs the Academy of Medicine's Chapter of Infectious Disease Physicians, is more concerned that cruises usually attract older people - who are more vulnerable to Covid-19.

He said: "Socialising is another reason older folks go for cruises, (play) mahjong, et cetera. The skew towards more elderly passengers in such settings, in possibly confined environments, means the need to be super vigilant and have very thorough policing of measures."

How is that going to happen?

fw-skcruise-091020.jpg

The STB said the ships must have "measures to discourage close contact and inter-mingling between groups". Discourage, not prohibit.

People may intermingle, gather and chat. Even if rules are laid out, they may be breached. Even if the crew take action against paying passengers, the damage may have been done.

cruising_safely_4.png

The website of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States - the worst-hit country in the world - says: "Cruise ships pose a greater risk of Covid-19 transmission than other settings" as they "are typically more densely populated than cities or most other living situations". It advises Americans to defer cruise travel.

Professor Alex Cook, vice-dean of research at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, is also dead set against such cruises.

He asked: "Are cruise ships the hill we want to die on?"

He pointed out that there is no guarantee that all passengers are free from Covid-19.

A passenger who gets infected the day before boarding "is almost certainly going to test negative on embarking", said Prof Cook.

During incubation, the person would test negative - but could turn positive in a day or two, in other words, during the cruise.

Should an outbreak result, he warned, "we'll need to be ready to handle the contact tracing and quarantining that would be necessary".

The CDC said there is also risk in "crew living and working in close quarters in a partially enclosed environment where social distancing may prove challenging, even with a limited number of people on board".

Should a crew member be infected but be asymptomatic, it could "keep the virus circulating from one voyage to the next".

The STB says it is allowing such cruises "in line with the calibrated resumption of economic activities in Singapore".

Yes, it is important to keep the economy going. And yes, many people here want to go on holiday again. But the risk appears too high. The outcome is uncertain - it could be beneficial or highly damaging.

In the best-case scenario, no transmission occurs on board and everyone has a good time.

But the worst that could happen - and there is no guarantee that it won't - is a major outbreak that, if spread to the community by asymptomatic carriers, could bring more economic activities to a halt.

Surely there are better ways to kick-start the economy?

Quote

I think cruise to nowhere is fine, inside still got activities and also gambling. So won't bored to death.

 

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Supersonic (edited)

Completely retarded. Is the alarming uptrend in new cases in many countries not enough to give them pause?! Are they also forgetting the first "super-cluster" began on a cruise ship which no one dared to have disembark in their territory? 🙄

Edited by Turboflat4
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Moderator

uncles and aunties must be very happy, can't wait [laugh]

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Supersonic (edited)

the only good thing for this cruise is capacity is kept at 50% and 100% sinkies and pr ... not flooded with prc and ceca? lol

nonetheless, cruise ship need to block off level / room / etc for emergency preparedness

a. sufficient quarantine and isolation

b. beef up medical team and supplies

c. plenty of test kits

d. allow for safe disembarkation of uninfected passengers

and good luck!

Edited by Wt_know

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9 minutes ago, Wt_know said:

the only good thing for this cruise is capacity is kept at 50% and 100% sinkies and pr ... not flooded with prc and ceca? lol

nonetheless, cruise ship need to block off level / room / etc for emergency preparedness

a. sufficient quarantine and isolation

b. beef up medical team and supplies

c. plenty of test kits

d. allow for safe disembarkation of uninfected passengers

and good luck!

stay in the room throughout, meals will be served in room service.

Staggered time for passengers to come out for the sun or other activities, limit to 20% at a time. [laugh]

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Supersonic

The risks are too high. 

It may lead to thousands being quarantined for just one case of infection and it wont be just one case for sure.

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Supersonic
5 minutes ago, Jman888 said:

stay in the room throughout, meals will be served in room service.

Staggered time for passengers to come out for the sun or other activities, limited to 20% at a time. [laugh]

LoL...You make it sound like a prison daily activity schedule. Where is the fun in that?

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3 minutes ago, Watwheels said:

LoL...You make it sound like a prison daily activity schedule. Where is the fun in that?

if the casino room is closed for these cruises, confirm less people will book [laugh]

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Supersonic
2 minutes ago, Jman888 said:

if the casino room is closed for these cruises, confirm less people will book [laugh]

no casino ... go for fck (literally) ... cruise to nowhere is for a reason ... muahahaha

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4th Gear

im tempted... but im also worried can go up .. but hard to come down if something were to happen like onboard the diamond princess

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2nd Gear
2 hours ago, kobayashiGT said:

Singapore restarting cruises: Boost for economy, but not plain sailing

source: https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/restarting-cruises-boost-for-economy-but-not-plain-sailing

It may sound like a good way to help the economy, but it could easily be a disaster waiting to happen.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has announced that it will allow pilot "cruises to nowhere" from next month, with safety measures in place.

This sounds fine, in theory. It's true that Singapore risks harming its economy if it does not return to some form of normalcy. But when it comes to cruises, the risks may outweigh potential rewards.

Consider what cruises entail in the first place. Passengers eat, they take part in activities, and they generally relax outside of their cabins. Even accepting that each cruise ship carries only half the number of passengers it can normally accommodate, it would still host more than 1,000 people over a period of days.

One of the participating ships in the pilot project has a normal capacity of more than 3,300 and the other has a maximum capacity of 4,900. And that is without counting the crew.

Those on board are supposed to wear masks. But we know that while masks do reduce the transmission rate, they do not completely stop the coronavirus from spreading. And passengers will not be masked during meals.

There is also the risk of transmitting the virus through common surfaces passengers touch while they help themselves to the food. And even if the food is served at the counter by crew, there are still many possible contact points.

Do you stop passengers from touching walls and handrails when they go for a stroll on deck? Or from talking to one another when taking part in activities? There are just so many possibilities for Covid-19 transmission.

One might argue that the same may be said of people in shopping malls or supermarkets. But they do not mingle for several days. Nor are they stuck together in an enclosed space, interacting through on-board activities.

People excited or having a good time tend to talk louder, increasing the transmission risk.

Expert opinion on the risks posed by such cruises is divided.

Professor Dale Fisher, a senior infectious diseases consultant at National University Hospital, and Professor Ooi Eng Eong of Duke-NUS Medical School's emerging infectious diseases programme see the move as another step towards normalising life here.

"It's not only about prioritising the safest activities; there is a balance with social and economic factors," said Prof Fisher.

Prof Ooi agreed that it is important to balance the risks against the livelihoods of many, adding: "It would be the same as any staycation."

Dr Asok Kurup, who chairs the Academy of Medicine's Chapter of Infectious Disease Physicians, is more concerned that cruises usually attract older people - who are more vulnerable to Covid-19.

He said: "Socialising is another reason older folks go for cruises, (play) mahjong, et cetera. The skew towards more elderly passengers in such settings, in possibly confined environments, means the need to be super vigilant and have very thorough policing of measures."

How is that going to happen?

fw-skcruise-091020.jpg

The STB said the ships must have "measures to discourage close contact and inter-mingling between groups". Discourage, not prohibit.

People may intermingle, gather and chat. Even if rules are laid out, they may be breached. Even if the crew take action against paying passengers, the damage may have been done.

cruising_safely_4.png

The website of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States - the worst-hit country in the world - says: "Cruise ships pose a greater risk of Covid-19 transmission than other settings" as they "are typically more densely populated than cities or most other living situations". It advises Americans to defer cruise travel.

Professor Alex Cook, vice-dean of research at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, is also dead set against such cruises.

He asked: "Are cruise ships the hill we want to die on?"

He pointed out that there is no guarantee that all passengers are free from Covid-19.

A passenger who gets infected the day before boarding "is almost certainly going to test negative on embarking", said Prof Cook.

During incubation, the person would test negative - but could turn positive in a day or two, in other words, during the cruise.

Should an outbreak result, he warned, "we'll need to be ready to handle the contact tracing and quarantining that would be necessary".

The CDC said there is also risk in "crew living and working in close quarters in a partially enclosed environment where social distancing may prove challenging, even with a limited number of people on board".

Should a crew member be infected but be asymptomatic, it could "keep the virus circulating from one voyage to the next".

The STB says it is allowing such cruises "in line with the calibrated resumption of economic activities in Singapore".

Yes, it is important to keep the economy going. And yes, many people here want to go on holiday again. But the risk appears too high. The outcome is uncertain - it could be beneficial or highly damaging.

In the best-case scenario, no transmission occurs on board and everyone has a good time.

But the worst that could happen - and there is no guarantee that it won't - is a major outbreak that, if spread to the community by asymptomatic carriers, could bring more economic activities to a halt.

Surely there are better ways to kick-start the economy?

 

Better than going to hotel for staycation! 🤣

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Twincharged

The easy way out will be not letting the cruise dock if there are any infections. Just let the passenger serve out the period then allow disembarkation. Only those that require immediate medical attention are allowed to disembark.

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Hypersonic

I will support by sending my MIL.

Can use the $100 vouchers?

:grin:

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Turbocharged
15 minutes ago, Jamesc said:

I will support by sending my MIL.

Can use the $100 vouchers?

:grin:

You need to buy the sail to no where and no come back package. hahahaha

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Twincharged
27 minutes ago, Blueray said:

部分航班已售罄 逾4000人预订游轮配套

https://www.zaobao.com.sg/znews/singapore/story20201011-1091903

how many of the 4000 from MCF, please kee chiu ... 🙋‍♂️

Tempted to book. 

The shows are main puller compare to Staycation at hotels. 

Kids will likely be entertained for those magic, musicals and dances. 

But risks still outweigh the rewards. 

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