Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest cruise operator, said it's willing to convert some of its unused ships to serve as floating hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.
"If needed, cruise ships are capable of being quickly provisioned to serve as hospitals with up to 1,000 hospital rooms that can treat patients suffering from less critical, non-COVID-19 conditions," Carnival said in a press release Thursday.
"These temporary cruise ship hospital rooms can be quickly converted to install and connect remote patient monitoring devices over the ship's high-speed network – providing cardiac, respiratory, oxygen saturation and video monitoring capabilities," the release continued. "The rooms also have bathroom facilities, private balconies with access to sun and fresh air, as well as isolation capabilities, as needed."
The offer comes as more cruise ships are temporarily out of commission during the pandemic and medical officials worry the number of coronavirus cases may exceed hospitals' capacity and overwhelm the health care system.
That fear has led to the popularization and goal of “flattening the curve," referring to the effort to stop the rapid spread of a disease and prevent it from overwhelming hospitals and health care providers through social distancing, self-quarantines and limited gatherings.
Hospitals and health care providers have already said they do not have enough of the critical supplies needed to protect doctors and nurses from the coronavirus, including a lack of masks.