Cruise giant offers ships as hospitals for non-Covid-19 patients

The AIDAmira kept more than 1,750 passengers on board in Cape Town harbour for four days last week while waiting for the Covid-19 test results of four passengers. All were negative.
The AIDAmira kept more than 1,750 passengers on board in Cape Town harbour for four days last week while waiting for the Covid-19 test results of four passengers. All were negative.
Image: AIDA Cruises

The world’s largest leisure travel company is offering its cruise ships for use as temporary hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

US-based Carnival Corporation, which owns several cruiseline brands, said its ships are  available to treat Covid-19 negative patients to free up hospital space needed for positive patients.

“With the continued spread of Covid-19 expected to exert added pressure on land-based health care facilities, including a possible shortage of hospital beds, Carnival Corporation and its brands are calling on governments and health authorities to consider using cruise ships as temporary health care facilities to treat non-Covid-19 patients, freeing up additional space and expanding capacity in land-based hospitals to treat cases of Covid-19,” the company said in a statement.

“As part of the offer, interested parties will be asked to cover only the essential costs of the ship's operations while in port.”

The cruiseline industry has been in the spotlight for several weeks due to several ships being quarantined and refused entry to ports around the world.

In some cases, the virus spread quickly among passengers and crew, prompting emergency evacuations and enforced isolation.

Transnet this week referred questions about Carnival’s offer to the health department, which has not yet responded to TimesLIVE queries.

Carnival said its ships are capable of being quickly provisioned to serve as hospitals, with up to 1,000 rooms.

“These temporary cruise ship hospital rooms can be quickly converted to install and connect remote patient-monitoring devices over the ship's high-speed network, providing cardiac, respiratory, oxygen saturation and video-monitoring capabilities,” the statement said.

“The rooms also have bathroom facilities, private balconies with access to sun and fresh air, as well as isolation capabilities, as needed.

“Additionally, cruise ships being used as temporary hospital facilities to treat non-Covid-19 patients would have the ability to provide up to seven intensive care units in the ship's medical centre, equipped with central cardiac monitoring, ventilators and other key medical devices and capabilities.

“Similar to land-based health facilities, cruise ships can also house multiple medical functions in disparate locations by using different decks on the ship to separate each required medical area.”

The temporary hospital cruise ships would be berthed at a pier near the community in need and operated by the ship's crew, with all maritime operations, food and beverage, and cleaning services provided.

“Medical services would be provided by the government entity or hospital responsible for fighting the spread of Covid-19 within that community,” the statement said.


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