As explained in a new information bulletin dated 29 March, due to the outbreak, an increased number of passenger vessels have required medical evacuations of both stable and critically ill persons including those with influenza-like illness such as COVID-19.

This is necessary, USCG noted, as medical facilities onshore may reach full capacity soon.

Although the Coast Guard continues to prioritize safety of life at sea and the safety of U.S. ports and waterways, the sudden increase in cases requiring medical consultations, ultimately resulting in medical evacuations, has placed strains on local media resources  throughout the Seventh District’s Area of Responsibility.

The Port of Miami, for example, is no longer accepting MEDEVAC patients due to limited hospital capacity, the bulletin informs.

If a medevac is deemed necessary by the USCG flight surgeon, the vessel owner or operator will be required to secure commercial transportation ashore and confirm availability of medical services before any such evacuation is authorized.

Foreign flagged ships that loiter beyond US territory and require a medevac to a shore facility should seek flag state support prior to seeking support "from the limited facilities in the US".

Foreign flagged vessels that loiter beyond U.S. territorial seas, particularly those registered to The Bahamas, that require MEDEVAC to a shoreside faciliy should seek flag state support prior to seek support from the limited facilities in the US.

USCG’s Seventh District includes the cruising hub of Florida, as well as Puerto Rico, Georgia, South Carolina.

All these requirements are effective immediately.