Nearly 50 cruise passengers test positive for COVID-19 after disembarking in Sydney

·News Editor
·3-min read

The number of people in the community who have tested positive for COVID-19 after disembarking a cruise ship in Sydney last week has risen to at least 48.

The Ruby Princess ship was carrying 1,100 crew and close to 2,700 passengers. Passengers were allowed to disembark Thursday in the centre of Sydney despite concerns that many were showing flu-like symptoms and test results for COVID-19 were still pending.

According to NSW Health, the number of passengers who have now tested positive as of Monday morning has risen to 48.

So far NSW Health has identified 27 COVID-19 cases in NSW and 21 cases interstate among passengers who left the ship after it docked.

When leaving the ship, passengers were simply told to self-isolate. NSW Health reportedly deemed the vessel "low risk" because it had come from New Zealand.

The Federal Border Force and NSW Health have thrown blame at each other over who was ultimately responsible for the decision to allow passengers to disembark.

“Contrary to some public statements made, every cruise liner that has entered NSW ports has been the subject of an assessment well beyond federal requirements,” NSW Health said in a statement Sunday evening.

Cruise ship passengers disembark from the Princess Cruises in Sydney on Thursday. Source: AAP
Cruise ship passengers disembark from the Princess Cruises in Sydney on Thursday. Source: AAP

On Monday, the department said there was no evidence at the time that passengers were infected with the novel coronavirus.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant insisted there was no evidence of COVID-19 on board the Ruby Princess cruise ship during a press conference this morning.

"There was no outbreak on the ship," she told reporters alongside the premier on Monday.

Dr Chant said there were some cases of the flu on the ship with the COVID-19 cases "subsequently" coming to light.

All cases from the cruise ship are in isolation at home or in hospital and all passengers and crew have been notified and asked to self-isolate for 14 days as investigations continue.

NSW Health has said it followed protocol which states that “provided there are no concerns about the COVID-19 risk profile of a ship or suspected COVID-19 cases reported ... the ship may be allowed to continue the voyage while samples are being tested”.

However from today, it will will do more than what the protocol requires and will hold all cruise ships in port until any patients highlighted as having respiratory issues are tested for COVID-19, NSW Health said in a statement.

It comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in NSW jumped to 669 on Monday, increasing by 136 cases in 24 hours. The highest previous increase over a 24 hour period was 97.

- with AAP

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