MSC Cruises Announces Blue-Ribbon COVID Group for Return to Service

MSC Virtousa

MSC Cruises has announced an expert Blue-Ribbon group to help guide it in its return to service.

The cross-functional task force is comprised of in-house experts in the areas of medical services, public health and sanitation, hotel services, HVAC and other shipboard engineering systems, information technology and logistics.

MSC also engaged Aspen Medical to further assist with the development of the company’s own enhanced protocol and procedures.

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, commented: “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.

Pierfrancesco Vago

“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 and 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’ Blue Ribbon COVID Expert Group has been personally formed by the Company’s Executive Chairman and includes: Professor Christakis Hadjichristodoulou, Professor of Hygiene and Epidemiology at the Faculty of Medicine as well as its Vice President, School of Health Sciences, University of Thessaly, Greece; Professor Stephan J. Harbarth, Head of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the Faculty of Medicine, Geneva University Hospitals (HUG); and Doctor Ian Norton, a Specialist Emergency Physician with post graduate qualifications in Surgery, International Health and Tropical Medicine who was also formerly the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Medical Team Initiative program from 2014 until January 2020.

Bud Darr, MSC Group’s Executive Vice President for Maritime Policy and Government Affairs, commented: “Since the early days when it came to the development of our new health and safety operating protocol, we have been in continuous consultation with regional, national and local public health authorities including, among others, those in Europe, US, Brazil and China – both directly and through the industry association, CLIA. To this end, some of the Company’s most detailed engagement and contribution took place with EU-level authorities responsible for public health, as it relates to cruise ships. This has recently resulted in the issuance of the EU Healthy Gateways interim guidance, amongst others, and that national health authorities across the Continent are currently reviewing.”

Darr said he expect a potential resumption of cruise operation following the now nearly completed and successful reopening of other travel and leisure activities across the EU.

MSC Cruises’ new operating protocol – details of which will be announced soon – 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 European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), as well as regulations set forth by many of the governments in the countries in which MSC ships operate, the company said. 

MSC said it has had its global in-house taskforce from across the business in place to develop and continuously review its existing protocols and measures from the outset.  

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