The travel industry has been forced to adapt quickly to the massive changes and challenges brought on by the spread of COVID-19 this year. The latest example is Viking Cruises, who have become the first company to announce an onboard PCD laboratory for rapid COVID-19 testing.
The completion of the facility was announced onboard the Viking Star, which according to the company allows for large-scale testing capacity. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a technique used to detect small segments of genetic material in samples, and shows the presence of an antigen, as opposed to the body’s immune response or antibodies. It is commonly used with a swab to take a sample. According to Viking, the test onboard the 930-guest ocean vessel is non-invasive and uses a saliva sample.
“We have been working on this for a number of months, and today is important as it moves us one step closer to operating cruises again, without compromising the safety of our guests and crew. The recently announced CDC guidelines are clearly aligned with our public health research, and we welcome the agency’s push toward testing, as we believe this is the only way to safely operate. In our view, continuous PCR testing, along with our extensive onboard hygiene protocols, will lead to making Viking ships a safe place to get away to and explore the world,” said Matt Grimes, Vice President of Maritime Operations for Viking.
Viking plans on demonstrating the PCR laboratory as well as new design and operating procedures when the Viking Star arrives in Oslo in mid-November.
Recently a number of major cruise companies who are members of Cruise Lines International Association (CLI) came together in agreement with new regulations that will require all passengers wishing to embark to show that they don’t have COVID- 19, while the CDC in the US has announced a phased approach to the resumption of passenger operations.