Nearly half of Australia's coronavirus deaths linked to one source

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

Nearly half of all people who have died in Australia from coronavirus have been people who have been on cruises, data shows.

Of the nation’s 22 deaths to date, 10 of them have been passengers who disembarked coronavirus-plagued cruise ships.

Six deaths are from the Ruby Princess, a vessel which was at the heart of a colossal oversight from authorities after thousands of passengers were allowed to disembark despite still awaiting the results of a handful of COVID-19 tests.

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On Wednesday, a 67-year-old woman who died at Orange Base Hospital, was a passenger on the Ruby Princess.

On Thursday, Victoria confirmed a fifth person in the state had died however, her source of death was unconfirmed.

Cruise ship passengers disembark the Ruby Princess. Source: AAP

More than 200 people across Australia with links to the Ruby Princess have since contracted coronavirus.

Nearly a third of all Australian cases acquired abroad are linked to cruise ships. The first recorded death in Australia was 78-year-old Perth man James Kwan who had been on board the Diamond Princess.

Nearly a third of all cases acquired abroad in Australia have come from cruise ships. Source: Department of Health

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has been vocal on the state’s stance on nine cruise ships off the NSW coastline who are pleading to be given permission to dock.

He said the state would not be allowing the ships to disembark and ordered vessels to return to their original port to protect the healthcare system.

“There are thousands of people, potentially, in cruise ships off our coasts that aren’t members of our state and if we take them in, then that could well flood our system unnecessarily,” Commissioner Fuller said.

On Thursday morning he said he fears the state’s death toll of 10 could rise significantly if cruise ships were allowed to disembark their roughly 9000 people still at sea.

“We know around the world that when the hospital systems become overwhelmed, then lots and lots of people die,” he told the ABC.

Five deaths are also linked to the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care facility in Sydney’s northwest, which was among a handful of locations within several kilometres of each other that made up the city’s initial COVID-19 epicentre in early March.

A further two people who died from coronavirus were patients at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital, meaning 13 of 22 deaths are linked to just three individual sources.

As of Thursday morning, Australia’s total number of cases surpassed 5000.

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