Infectious diseases expert explains why cruises are such a hotbed of germs – The Sun

AN expert on infectious diseases has explained why cruises are often seen as a "hotbed of germs" when it comes to spreading illnesses and viruses following a number of outbreaks of coronavirus on cruise ships.

Professor Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases specialist at the Australian National University, said it is due to the number of people from different countries around the world.

He spoke to the BBC following the quarantine of Diamond Princess after 174 people tested positive for the virus.

He said: "In general, you've got passengers and crew members from different parts of the world mixing intimately and intensely for a short period of time."

This means people on board are exposed to different strains of illnesses and have different immunity, meaning you are more likely to catch something that your body is not used to.

Cruise ships have a many communal spaces such as dining areas, swimming pools and entertainment venues, making the spread of infections much easier too.

He added: "Say if someone sneezed on to a table, and then someone else immediately touches that table, that could lead to infection."

This is also why norovirus can quickly spread throughout a ship if one person falls ill.

However, cruise liners are aware of this – and so have strict procedures when it comes to a contagious disease.

Journalist Brandon Presser spent a week on a Royal Caribbean ship and explained the sanitation steps taken.

He previously said that if there are six people reported ill within six hours, the infected passengers are told to stay in their cabins while crew ask people to start washing their hands.

If it escalates, restaurants become service-only and guests will no longer be able to help themselves to food from the buffet to prevent further infection.

Cruise expert Stewart Chiron also told the BBC that the reality of the spread of illnesses on board is that interaction between guests is "minimal".

He said not only are passengers rarely interacting or waiting in long queues, but that even service crew wear gloves which reduces outbreaks.

Cruise inspectors have revealed the horror stories on board such as vomiting barmen and fly-covered food.

In 2018, more cruise ships than ever failed cleaning inspections.

That same year, a "cruise ship from hell" led to 16,000 passengers to contract norovirus on eight different voyages.

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