Twenty-Six Coronavirus Cases Linked to Ruby Princess

file photo of Ruby Princess in Sydney
file photo of Ruby Princess in Sydney

Published Mar 22, 2020 6:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

There have now been 26 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia linked to the arrival of the cruise ship Ruby Princess in Sydney last Thursday.

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

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, and the government has been criticized for allowing passengers to disembark when the vessel returned from New Zealand despite over 150 cases of illness logged onboard. Eight of the confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases have now left NSW and are in other states, some having caught domestic flights after disembarking. 

The number of new cases is rising daily in Australia. Latest NSW Health figures indicate the state has 533 confirmed cases as of March 21. Australia-wide, the latest World Health Organization situation report indicates the nation has 1,081 cases, with seven deaths.

From midnight on Sunday, NSW Health will hold all cruise ships in port until any patients highlighted as having respiratory issues are 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 March 7; 
• the Ovation of the Seas (two cases) which docked March 18; 
• a second cruise of the Voyager of the Seas (one case) which docked March 18; 
• the Celebrity Solstice (one case reported in New Zealand) which docked March 20. 

Cases are 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.

Cruise ships have garnered widespread public attention during the pandemic after around 700 people were infected on the Diamond Princess in February. Seven have died.

The cruise industry is scrambling to bring all of its ships to port after the decision to pause operations. When they decided to suspend operations, approximately 40 ships with 90,000 passengers were at sea, according to a joint statement from the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Read cruise industry export Allan E. Jordon's latest update here.