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Positive update on the COVID-19 Paul Gauguin cruise case


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An update on the Paul Gauguin:
More detailed (and well balanced) info is now available in local media:

https://www.radio1.pf/paul-gauguin-les-passagers-en-septaine-a-terre-le-protocole-sanitaire-renforce/

https://www.tahiti-infos.com/Les-passagers-du-Gauguin-debarques-et-confines_a193190.html

None of the other passengers and crew tested positive from Sunday’s testing, and they have been allowed to start to disembark the Gauguin Monday night. Here, IMO, are the salient facts to note:

The infected passenger is a 22-year-old travelling with her mother. They arrived from the States last Sunday, before boarding on Thursday. They’d been diligently following the mandatory masking and social distancing protocols, and were also diligent about doing the required self-test and dropping it off as instructed. They 100% complied with all of the conditions that were imposed on their travel and their cruise -- they did their part to mitigate risk.

The requirement for a test to be done 72 hours before boarding the departure flight is not perfect - but we all knew that already. It’s acknowledged that she could have easily been infected in the interval, or had a first false-negative. The required self-test done 4 days after arrival did its job. However, it did not prevent her from embarking the ship. Because of this, a 3rd test on the eve of embarkation is now going to be required, administered by the authorities.

The sanitary protocols onboard ship were strictly adhered to, and worked. Tracing identified 24 ‘at risk’ crew and passengers that had been in contact with the pair (out of 340.) The pair’s shoreside day on Bora-Bora, with the use of a rental car and a stop at a restaurant, as well as their time in Tahiti could reliably be contact-traced as well.

The authorities expressed confidence in their testing, tracing and isolating policy. They feel that the E.T.I.S. system (https://www.etis.pf/en/), that they have put in place to manage the health screening and monitoring of the tourists on the islands, functioned as intended. They felt that the risk of exposure had been minimal (not zero.)

All passengers and crew that tested negative must now adhere to a 7-day quarantine, to end with retesting to be redone at the end of this period. The monitored ‘confinement’ must be done at home for the residents, or in designated accommodation for the other passengers. All had to sign an ‘honour-bound’ quarantine compliance agreement. Passengers who live on Tahiti were the first to be allowed to disembark and go directly home on Monday night. Residents of the other islands are expected to disembark to return home today. The crew shall remain onboard. 

The mother-daughter pair will be closely monitored during their quarantine on Tahiti, for any sign of illness.

The interesting thing about all of this is that this incident has happened in a “closed environment” of sorts - with French Polynesia being essentially free of community transmission. What remains to be watched, especially in the next 7-10 days, is if the islands remain cluster-free, and if none of the passengers and crew return a positive result when retested in 7 days.

The French Polynesian authorities did state that they do not want situations like this one to repeat, where a ship carrying passengers has to return to port and deal with a quarantine situation again.

The main take-away here is the importance of compliance with the sanitary protocols.

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21 minutes ago, GrandmaAirplane said:

An update on the Paul Gauguin:
More detailed (and well balanced) info is now available in local media:

https://www.radio1.pf/paul-gauguin-les-passagers-en-septaine-a-terre-le-protocole-sanitaire-renforce/

https://www.tahiti-infos.com/Les-passagers-du-Gauguin-debarques-et-confines_a193190.html

None of the other passengers and crew tested positive from Sunday’s testing, and they have been allowed to start to disembark the Gauguin Monday night. Here, IMO, are the salient facts to note:

The infected passenger is a 22-year-old travelling with her mother. They arrived from the States last Sunday, before boarding on Thursday. They’d been diligently following the mandatory masking and social distancing protocols, and were also diligent about doing the required self-test and dropping it off as instructed. They 100% complied with all of the conditions that were imposed on their travel and their cruise -- they did their part to mitigate risk.

The requirement for a test to be done 72 hours before boarding the departure flight is not perfect - but we all knew that already. It’s acknowledged that she could have easily been infected in the interval, or had a first false-negative. The required self-test done 4 days after arrival did its job. However, it did not prevent her from embarking the ship. Because of this, a 3rd test on the eve of embarkation is now going to be required, administered by the authorities.

The sanitary protocols onboard ship were strictly adhered to, and worked. Tracing identified 24 ‘at risk’ crew and passengers that had been in contact with the pair (out of 340.) The pair’s shoreside day on Bora-Bora, with the use of a rental car and a stop at a restaurant, as well as their time in Tahiti could reliably be contact-traced as well.

The authorities expressed confidence in their testing, tracing and isolating policy. They feel that the E.T.I.S. system (https://www.etis.pf/en/), that they have put in place to manage the health screening and monitoring of the tourists on the islands, functioned as intended. They felt that the risk of exposure had been minimal (not zero.)

All passengers and crew that tested negative must now adhere to a 7-day quarantine, to end with retesting to done at the end of this period. The monitored ‘confinement’ must be done at home for the residents, or in designated accommodation for the other passengers. All had to sign an ‘honour-bound’ quarantine compliance agreement. Passengers who live on Tahiti were the first to be allowed to disembark and go directly home on Monday night. Residents of the other islands are expected to disembark to return home today. The crew shall remain onboard. 

The mother-daughter pair will be closely monitored during their quarantine on Tahiti, for any sign of illness.

The interesting thing about all of this is that this incident has happened in a “closed environment” of sorts - with French Polynesia being essentially free of community transmission. What remains to be watched, especially in the next 7-10 days, is if the islands remain cluster-free, and if none of the passengers and crew return a positive result when retested in 7 days.

The French Polynesian authorities did state that they do not want situations like this one to repeat, where a ship carrying passengers has to return to port and deal with a quarantine situation again.

The main take-away here is the importance of compliance with the sanitary protocols.

Great update.   We're hoping to get to French Polynesia in 2022 or 2023.  Awaiting the vaccine just because of issues like the one you reported.

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The links are great and the reporting at them is pretty good. Facts not fear. 

Will US and EU media outlets quote these ameliorating facts? Time will tell ..... and as you should know, I won't be counting on that.

The health ministries stating they don't want a repeat of these occurrences is somewhat problematic as it implies they'll not allow the PG to operate. They could, I suppose, regain authority to do that but, I can see the threat of introduction of COVID to the islands by foreign travelers as worrisome. It seemed, though, public health officials, cognizant of the importance of the tourist trade to the islands, won't close airports or sea ports or impose quarantine on arriving travellers unless a "cluster of cases" (implying community spread) can be identified. This is an impressive fact and data based position. We need more of these takes surrounding resumption of cruising globally.   

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15 minutes ago, bretts173 said:

why would a country accept an american tourist and why would an american torist be so selfish to risk other countries health for their own pleasure. Oh thats right freedom and liberty and all that crap.

One can properly ask that question but the question can't be asked and motivated by emotion.

In your view, what is the data based "risk to other countries" (French Polynesia in this case)? Can the risks one assigns to C-19 community spread be mitigated by locally implemented measures?  If there is a cluster of C-19 infections, will such disease burden outpace the capacity of the health care system to care for the infected? What is the benefit of improving the island's economies weighed against all these risks?

These are hard questions and, it seems to me, local public health officials are answering them by saying, right now, we will continue to allow travelers to come to our islands and believe this step, while it carries some risks, those risks are outweighed by the benefit to our economies and our citizens.

Encouraging and I like it.

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9 hours ago, JeffB said:

The links are great and the reporting at them is pretty good. Facts not fear. 

Will US and EU media outlets quote these ameliorating facts? Time will tell ..... and as you should know, I won't be counting on that.

The health ministries stating they don't want a repeat of these occurrences is somewhat problematic as it implies they'll not allow the PG to operate. They could, I suppose, regain authority to do that but, I can see the threat of introduction of COVID to the islands by foreign travelers as worrisome. It seemed, though, public health officials, cognizant of the importance of the tourist trade to the islands, won't close airports or sea ports or impose quarantine on arriving travellers unless a "cluster of cases" (implying community spread) can be identified. This is an impressive fact and data based position. We need more of these takes surrounding resumption of cruising globally.   

For the time being, they seem to be looking at tightening up testing and screening, as a means of preventing infected persons to board in the first place, rather than stop cruising altogether. The problem is not only PG, but also the cargo/passenger ships that combine “cruising” with a vital service between the islands.

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52 minutes ago, JeffB said:

One can properly ask that question but the question can't be asked and motivated by emotion.

In your view, what is the data based "risk to other countries" (French Polynesia in this case)? Can the risks one assigns to C-19 community spread be mitigated by locally implemented measures?  If there is a cluster of C-19 infections, will such disease burden outpace the capacity of the health care system to care for the infected? What is the benefit of improving the island's economies weighed against all these risks?

These are hard questions and, it seems to me, local public health officials are answering them by saying, right now, we will continue to allow travelers to come to our islands and believe this step, while it carries some risks, those risks are outweighed by the benefit to our economies and our citizens.

Encouraging and I like it.

I think that the key factor here is that sanitary protocols were diligently followed by all - arriving tourists, as well as the cruise company.

There is a significant degree of confidence in the local authorities that this compliance would happen, and would continue to happen. In other markets and regions, I’m not sure that the same degree of confidence could prevail right now.

French Polynesia has a few advantages in its corner: it is not a “mass tourism” destination; it’s a small region to administer, even if it has many islands; despite being a territory governed by France, local authorities seem well prepared and poised to take swift local action; and finally, it does have the support and resources of the French government and health institutes.

Like I mentioned before, the next part of this story - post-quarantine - will be another important phase to watch. As you noted, the risk with FP’s approach is the danger of having a cluster arise on any other of its islands than on Tahiti itself - because the entire basis for the islands’ administration and health care is centralized in Papeete.

 

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