MSC Cruises Announces Formation of COVID Expert Group

msc cruises covid expert group
MSC Fantasia and Poesia docked in Genoa, Italy - Photo by MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises has announced that they’ve formed a new group called Blue Ribbon COVID Expert Group to focus on health and safety when it comes to cruising and COVID-19. 

The cruise line has already set up a cross-functional task force of experts in the areas of Medical Services, Public Health and Sanitation, Hotel Services, HVAC and other Shipboard Engineering Systems, and Information Technology and Logistics. MSC also engaged the help of Aspen Medical to further assist with the company’s protocol and procedures moving forward. 

MSC Cruises’ Blue Ribbon COVID Expert Group has been personally formed by the line’s executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, and includes the following individuals: 

  • Professor Christakis Hadjichristodoulou, professor of hygiene and epidemiology in the faculty of medicine and vice president, School of Health Sciences at the University of Thessaly in Greece
  • Professor Stephan J. Harbarth, hospital epidemiologist, infectious diseases specialist and head of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) and faculty of medicine
  • Doctor Ian Norton, a specialist emergency physician with post-graduate qualifications in Surgery, International Health and Tropical Medicine, currently managing director of Respond Global, formerly the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Medical Team Initiative program from 2014 until January 2020.

READ MORE: MSC Cruises to Move Two Ships to Port Canaveral

In a statement, Vago said, “Today I am pleased to announce that the work of our task force is being further supported by the formation and engagement of a Blue Ribbon COVID Expert Group for consultation on protocols and planning, as well as bringing additional specialized advice to augment our own existing resources and knowledge.”

“The objective of our Blue Ribbon COVID Expert Group in the fields of Medicine, Public Health, and/or related scientific disciplines is to create a group of highly qualified and internationally respected experts to inform and review our initiatives as they relate to COVID-19 to help ensure that the actions taken are appropriate, effective, and informed by the best available science and health practices. For this reason, this Expert Group will have competency to review policy initiatives, technical innovations or operational measures related to COVID-19. It will remain in place long beyond our return to operations to ensure we benefit from their know-how and input even as the situation continues to evolve and more data become available.”

MSC Cruises’ new operating protocol has been designed to meet and exceed guidelines provided by key international and regional regulatory and technical bodies, including the World Health Organization, the EU Healthy Gateways Joint Action, and the European Maritime Safety Agency. The protocol will also meet regulations set forth by many of the governments in the countries where MSC ships operate. In the United States, the cruise line will only return to service once the necessary approvals have been received from local and national authorities, including the CDC. Details on MSC’s new protocol will be announced soon.

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