Britain is in the grip of the worst outbreak of norovirus, the winter vomiting bug, since records began.
So you’d think for once that the media might begin to see norovirus for what it is – a common, highly infectious virus that occurs mostly in winter, just like a cold, and can affect any community. Not ‘cruise ship virus’, as it’s often dubbed.
An outbreak of ‘noro’ onboard P&O Cruises’ Oriana, which is currently on a Baltic Christmas markets cruise, has provoked hysterical headlines like The Sun’s ‘Fury over cruise ship vomit hell’ and the Mirror’s ‘Plague Ship’, both quoting an affected passenger who claims: “It’s a scandal – misery on the high seas”.
P&O’s account of the situation on Oriana is widely different from the ranting in The Sun and the Daily Mail, both of which claim between 150 and 300 passengers have been struck down. The official statement says that today, six, out of 1,843 on board, are ill. Those that have seen the doctor have not had to pay for their medical treatment.
So why are cruise ships always picked on by the media as hotbeds of disease and poor hygiene, and the cruise lines themselves blamed for every outbreak?
The fact is, all passengers are asked to sign a declaration before boarding confirming that they have had no symptoms for the last 24 hours. Are all of them really honest? Does everybody really scrub their hands for three minutes after going to the loo and use the hand sanitisers before entering the restaurants? Probably not. In fact, almost definitely not.
Perhaps cruise ship passengers should take a look at their own hygiene before jumping on the bandwagon of blame when the simple fact is, the most likely way you’re going to catch norovirus, wherever you are, is by not washing your hands properly.
Are you onboard Oriana? Have you been affected by norovirus? Tell us below.