Over 120 Ruby Princess Crew Test Positive
COVID-19 testing is ongoing for the crew of the Ruby Princess, anchored at Port Kembla south of Sydney.
To date, 128 have tested positive and another 11 have already been evacuated from the ship. Increased infection control measures have been implemented on the ship, but around 800 crewmembers have not yet been tested.
A criminal investigation is underway to determine who was responsible for allowing around 2,700 passengers to disembark in Sydney without quarantine on March 19. Australia-wide, the Ruby Princess has been linked to more than 600 COVID-19 cases and 18 deaths. The incident will now also be the subject of a special commission of inquiry, as well as the criminal investigation. The inquiry is expected to report back to the NSW Premier in three to four months.
According to The Australian, Aspen Medical, the independent contractor appointed by the federal government to manage the quarantined ship, allowed food to be prepared on the ship until Saturday. The NSW Police Commissioner indicated that food prepared onboard was potentially the source of the outbreak on the ship, and since then pre-packaged meals have been served.
Three foreign flagged vessels remain in the Australian ports of Fremantle, Darwin and Port Kembla, with dozens of crew infected with COVID-19. Federal Shadow Transport Minister Catherine King has voiced concern over issues also raised by labor leaders including the Maritime Union of Australia. She says: “The Morrison Government must urgently take action to assist the crews on board the last remaining cruise ships in Australian waters. If the Government fails to act now, it risks creating another Ruby Princess-style disaster.
“Every day the Morrison Government waits to assist in repatriating these crews, it risks more crew members becoming critically ill, requiring transport to Australian hospitals and placing unnecessary additional stress on state health systems.”
She says: “The Morrison Government must treat these people the same way we would want Australians treated in other countries. Some 600 Australians are still crewing other cruise ships around the world. With the help of other governments, approximately 6,000 Australians have disembarked over 50 cruise ships and made it home.” This includes hundreds of Australians who were stranded on board the Greg Mortimer. They have arrived home thanks to assistance frm the Government of Uruguay.
“The most immediate priority is the more than 1,000 crew members on board the Ruby Princess,” she said. “These people are confined to their cabins, with no idea on when they will be able to return home.”