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Cruise ships denied docking over COVID cases as more flights cancelled

Authorities in the western Mexican state of Jalisco on Monday refused to allow a cruise ship to disembark in Puerto Vallarta, one of the country’s most popular destinations, because of cases of COVID-19 on board.

According to local health authorities, 69 coronavirus infections have been confirmed among the crew.

The Carnival Panorama cruise ship departed December 24 from Long Beach, California, and its itinerary includes visits to the popular Mexican ports of Mazatlan, Los Cabos (northwest) and Puerto Vallarta.

On December 24, before departure, five COVID-19 cases were detected among the ship’s crew, a figure that has since risen to 69, the Jalisco state health ministry said in a statement.

The ministry did not confirm whether it was the Omicron variant.

Under protocol, tourists on board were asked to present a negative antigen test before being allowed to disembark, but the company that owns the ship decided that no one should disembark and abandoned the stop Monday night.

The Carnival Panorama can accommodate 3,936 passengers and 1,450 crew members, according to data published by the company on its website.

It is the second cruise ship prevented from disembarking in four days.

On December 23, another ship carrying 1,035 passengers and 874 crew members was banned from disembarking, according to the Jalisco government, after 21 cases of coronavirus were detected among the crew.

Between 28 and 30 December, three more cruise ships are expected to arrive in Puerto Vallarta, according to the Ministry of the Navy.

The incidents are not isolated. A South Florida-based cruise ship, Carnival Freedom was denied entry to Bonaire and Aruba — in the Caribbean — last week due to cases of COVID-19 on board and cut its cruise short.

The ship had 2,497 passengers and 1,112 crew members and was scheduled to return to Miami on Sunday following an 8-day cruise.

Passengers were required to be vaccinated and they were tested before leaving on December 18.

According to the CDC, the main public health agency in the United States, more than 60 cruise ships are being investigated by US health authorities after cases of COVID-19 appeared on board.

Meanwhile, airlines were forced to cancel more flights due to the Omicron variant.

Some 8,300 international and domestic flights were cancelled over the three-day Christmas weekend, with Chinese airlines alone cancelling more than 2,000 flights, many of them to Xi’an, whose 13 million inhabitants are under lockdown.

The disruptions continued on Monday — with about 2,500 flights scrapped. The FlightAware website was on Tuesday morning reporting that 1,722 flights had been cancelled on Tuesday.

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