Brazilian health authorities announced on Sunday, January 2, they would investigate reports of cruise ships violating COVID protocols, after outbreaks hit 3 liners operating on itineraries visiting ports in Brazil.
The country's federal health agency (Anvisa) said in a statement that "failure to follow health protocols and disobeying restrictive measures imposed by the authorities constitute infractions that, if confirmed, will result in fines and the suspension of (cruise companies') activities."
Anvisa added it would also reinforce a recommendation it made last week to the Brazilian health ministry "to suspend all cruises immediately, given the global surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the new Omicron variant."
Brazil allowed ship cruises to restart in November 2021 but ordered companies to implement strict anti-COVID protocols, including testing passengers and quarantining them in case of infection.
The crackdown comes after COVID outbreaks erupted on 3 ships off the Brazilian coast at New Year's.
Anvisa said 26 passengers and 2 crew tested positive on MSC Preziosa, cruising off the Rio de Janeiro's coast. The vessel was allowed to dock in Rio on Sunday. The infected and their close contacts were quarantined.
On December 30, health authorities suspended the operations of 2 ships - Costa Diadema and MSC Splendida, after they also reported dozens of COVID cases onboard.
Costa Diadema, which was off Salvador de Bahia, was ordered to disembark 68 infected and sail back to homeport Santos (Sao Paulo) to go into quarantine.
MSC Splendida, which was en route to Rio de Janeiro, was ordered back to Santos after reporting 78 COVID cases.