Almost 50 passengers who were on-board the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which docked in Sydney last week, have returned a positive test for COVID-19.
According to NSW Health, 48 people who travelled on-board the cruise ship returned a positive test, bringing the number of confirmed cases in NSW up to 669.
On Sunday, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan lashed NSW’s handling of cruise ship passengers who disembarked in Sydney after it was revealed at the time 18 passengers were confirmed positive for the deadly virus.
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RELATED: WA premier slams NSW over handling of Ruby Princess passengers
“NSW had people coming off ships yesterday and that may have changed matters. We managed the cruise ship very, very well yesterday so quite different to what happened in NSW,” Mr McGowan told reporters.
Over the weekend, the number of people with coronavirus who were on-board the Ruby Princess spiked from four to 18 after confirmation by NSW Health. That number now sits at 48.
NSW Health says 27 of those are still in the state while 21 have travelled interstate. Another five cases have been identified from the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship.
The Ruby Princess, carrying 2700 passengers, left Sydney on March 8 before it completed a cruise around the Pacific to New Zealand and returned to the city last Thursday morning, with several passengers reporting flu-like symptoms while on-board.
All passengers and crew had been notified and advised to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor symptoms.
The NSW Government is facing serious questions about why it allowed nearly 2700 passengers to disembark the Ruby Princess last week despite awaiting test results from a large number of people on board showing “flu-like symptoms”.
In a statement yesterday, NSW Health said it undertook a “full assessment” of the Ruby Princess even though “it could have chosen not to do so” under the current national protocol.
“The national protocol states ‘provided there are no concerns about the COVID-19 risk profile of a ship or suspected COVID-19 cases reported, the human biosecurity officer may advise the biosecurity officer that pratique can be granted and the ship may be allowed to continue the voyage while samples are being tested’,” NSW Health said.
“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 chief medical officer Dr Kerry Chant last week said the Ruby Princess was considered a “low-risk” ship because it had only travelled between Australia and New Zealand.
NSW Health said yesterday it was strengthening the state protocols beyond the national protocol “and will hold all cruise ships in port until any patients highlighted as having respiratory issues are tested for COVID-19”.
– with Frank Chung