Cruise Ship Coronavirus Screening Faces Uphill Battle Due to Asymptomatic Positives

As cruise companies push to return to service, they are facing an uphill battle as it relates to detaining coronavirus’ spread aboard their vessels. During the height of the coronavirus outbreak, cruise ships were among the most affected, and infected, locations in the world, with one ship seeing over 700 people catch the coronavirus while onboard. 

A new report by indicates that 80% of passengers who were infected with coronavirus aboard cruise ships did not show any symptoms. This could be devastating news to cruise line officials who are currently trying to plan how to return to service while keeping travelers safe. Put simply, if they cannot quickly and easily identify who is sick with coronavirus, it may be impossible to effectively prevent sick people from boarding the ships or transmitting the virus once they board.

“As countries progress out of lockdown, a high proportion of infected, but asymptomatic, individuals may mean that a much higher percentage of the population than expected may have been infected with COVID,” said Alan Smyth, professor of child health at the University of Nottingham. But when it comes to asymptomatic coronavirus carriers, there are currently more questions than answers.

Experts are currently unsure what a large number of asymptomatic individuals means for the population in general. For example, it is currently unclear just how infectious asymptomatic individuals are or if people can become infected again after having contracted one round of coronavirus.

Additionally, the report indicates that tests meant to detect whether someone had contracted coronavirus in the past and already gotten better, so-called antibody tests, have not proven to be as accurate as researchers would like. 

With Carnival set to return to the seas on August 1, just over two months from now, it going to be exceedingly important that the cruise industry gets some answers to these questions soon.