Cruise insists passengers are not sick

The cruise ship MSC Magnifica has docked in Fremantle, Western Australia in a short stop to refuel.

West Australian police and Australian Border Force officers are monitoring the docks to ensure no passengers or crew leave the vessel.

Passengers on-board the MSC Magnifica will not be able to disembark. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Passengers on-board the MSC Magnifica will not be able to disembark. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

Premier Mark McGowan is adamant no one on-board will be allowed ashore during the refuel on Tuesday morning, as he says at least 250 of more than 1700 passengers are suffering upper respiratory illness.

The cruise ship operator MSC, however, has denied that any crew or passengers on the ship, which departed Italy in January, have respiratory or flu-like illnesses. The Government claims the vessel has given inconsistent reports about the health of its passengers.

Earlier this week, WA 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.

That number has now jumped to almost 50.

"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 on Sunday.

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.

Cruise ship passengers disembark from the Princess Cruises owned Ruby Princess at Circular Quay in Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins.
Cruise ship passengers disembark from the Princess Cruises owned Ruby Princess at Circular Quay in Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins.

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.

More to come

Originally published as Cruise insists passengers are not sick


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