Cruise ship with virus outbreak docks

A cruise ship carrying about 800 COVID-19 positive passengers has docked in Sydney.

Hundreds aboard the Majestic Princess began disembarking at Circular Quay early Saturday morning.

Operator Princess Cruises said virus patients had been isolating and every passenger had been given a rapid antigen test in the 24 hours before arrival.

While people with COVID are currently not required to isolate in Australian jurisdictions, it's recommended they stay home while unwell.

The ship has been travelling around New Zealand for the past 12 days and will head on to Melbourne on Saturday afternoon.

Approximately 4600 passengers and crew were aboard pre-Sydney.

Guests who tested positive and chose to stay on the ship were required to isolate for at least five days.

Marguerite Fitzgerald, who is president of parent company Carnival Australia, said all cases were asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and they had been warned to stay away from public transport.

"Much of this has been in planning for months," she said.

"We always knew that there was a risk that at some point we were going to see a surge in community transmission and that we would then see that on ship."

Ms Fitzgerald hit back at comparisons between the current circumstances and the virus outbreak involving the Ruby Princess in March 2020, which was linked to 28 deaths and more than 600 infections.

"That is nearly three years ago and since then, we as a community have learned a lot, a lot more about COVID," she said.

"We've learned what works to help mitigate transmission, we've learnt how to keep our vulnerable people safe and it is no different in the cruise industry."

A NSW Health spokesperson said the virus risk level for the vessel had been raised to tier three, meaning a high level of transmission.

The outbreak comes after a jump in cases across Australia over the past week, prompting Queensland to ask residents to mask up in health facilities, indoors and on public transport.

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