The story of the outbreak aboard the "Costa Atlantica" has left many readers amazed by the staggering negligence of both local officials in Nagasaki, as well as the Japanese and Italian governments. After the dozens of deaths and thousands of infections reported aboard cruise ships around the world, the notion that more than 600 crewmembers were left to live on-board this ship for months while it was being repaired is simply mind-blowing, given the obvious risk.
Then again, governments around the world from Europe to the US to Asia have largely failed to protect the most vulnerable in society, that being, in this case, patients in nursing homes. But as Bloomberg pointed out in a Friday update on the situation, there's another familiar player involved - one that really has no excuse for allowing this to happen.
That's right. Somehow, the "Costa Atlantica" is a Carnival Corp ship (owned by a subsidiary). Carnival has been far and away the worst offender in the travel and leisure industry in terms of its management of the many crises and outbreaks that have unfolded aboard its cruises. It failed to act fast enough to shut down operations, and even after it did, the company and personnel made many decisions which suggested they blithely placed the company's bottom line before the well-being of customers.
Australia has already launched a criminal investigation into Carnival over the "Ruby Princess" fiasco...
The number of confirmed Covid-19 infections on the Costa Atlantica had climbed to 91 as of Thursday from 48 a day earlier, the Nagasaki prefecture said.
The Atlantica is operated by CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping, a partnership between Carnival Corp. and state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corp. The Chinese entity is the majority owner.
Coronavirus cases at sea forced the industry to suspend new sailings in mid-March. Many ships were caught mid-voyage, leading to weeks of drama as companies hustled to get passengers to ports.
Even now, ships around the world still have crew on board.
The episode has captured the attention of Japan’s government, which already faced widespread Covid-19 on Carnival’s Diamond Princess, at one point the largest concentration of coronavirus outside of mainland China.
Japan’s Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said Thursday that all crew will now be tested on the Costa Atlantica.
Since the first case was confirmed on Monday, authorities have been investigating how the outbreak began, since the ship has been at port without passengers for weeks, and crew members weren’t supposed to have left the vessel.
Kato said some of the crew apparently got off the vessel at some point.
...will Japan, or perhaps Italy, be next to join in?
And yet, somehow, hundreds maybe thousands of crew members continue to live onboard hastily recalled cruise ships all around the world, apparently.
Let's hope they're at least getting some hazard pay.