Cases on cruise ship cause Australian Covid-19 spike

There have now been 26 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia linked to the arrival of cruise ship Ruby Princess IMO 9378462) in Sydney last Thursday March 19th (IMN, March 23rd 2020).

Of the 2,647 passengers on board, 25 have tested positive. One of the 1,148 crew tested positive.

The Ruby Princess was one of four cruise ships that had been granted an exemption to an Australia-wide 30-day ban on foreign ships. The Australian government has been criticized for allowing passengers to disembark when the vessel returned from New Zealand, despite there having been more than 150 cases of illness logged onboard. Eight of the confirmed Covid-19) cases had now left New South Wales and were in other states. Some of them caught domestic flights after disembarking.

From midnight on Sunday NSW Health began holding all cruise ships in port until any patients highlighted as having respiratory issues had been tested for Covid-19.

There are four other cruise ship voyages into Sydney linked to confirmed Covid-19 cases:

  • the Voyager of the Seas (one case) which docked on March 7th;
  • the Ovation of the Seas (two cases) which docked March 18th;
  • a second cruise of the Voyager of the Seas (one case) which docked March 18th;
  • the Celebrity Solstice (one case reported in New Zealand) which docked March 20th.

Cases were in self-isolation, either at home or in hospital. The majority of the crew have stayed on board to remain in isolation, and the ship is currently at sea off the NSW coast.

2008-built, Bermuda-flagged, 113,561 gt Ruby Princess is owned by Princess Cruise Lines of Valencia, California, USA. It is entered with Steamship Mutual and with UK Club.