Passenger who disembarked from ship in Sydney which had 227 coronavirus cases and flew straight to UK complains of feeling ‘listless’ with chesty cough – as it’s revealed one in SEVEN of Australia’s cases were contracted on cruise ships
- Elisa McCafferty and her husband were allowed to leave the Ruby Princess ship
- They weren’t told other passengers on the ship had coronavirus symptoms
- Couple have no smell or taste and are feeling listless with chesty cough
- One in seven of Australia’s coronavirus cases have come from cruise ships
- Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said 200 came from the Ruby Princess
- The Ruby Princess docked in Sydney after a tour of New Zealand
- About 2,700 passengers were let off the ship to travel to their homes
- Some travelled interstate and even across the world including to the UK
- Passengers claim they were not told of coronavirus risks before leaving the ship
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
A passenger who was allowed to disembark a cruise ship in Sydney and return home to the UK is now presenting coronavirus symptoms.
Elisa McCafferty and her husband left the Ruby Princess cruise ship and claim they weren’t told that anyone on board was showing symptoms of the virus until they landed at Heathrow.
The couple have reported that they are both feeling ‘listless’, finding it hard to focus and have no smell or taste.
Ms McCafferty says she also has a chesty cough and is throwing up clear liquid.
Almost 500 of Australia’s coronavirus cases – or one in seven – have come from cruise ships, the nation’s deputy chief medical officer said on Saturday.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told a national press conference almost 200 cases had come from one ship alone – the Ruby Princess.
The Ruby Princess docked in Sydney on March 19 after a tour of New Zealand and let 2,700 passengers, some showing symptoms, leave for their homes around Australia and across the world, including the UK.
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Elisa McCafferty (pictured) and her partner have reported that they are both ‘listless’, finding it hard to focus and have no smell or taste since leaving the cruise ship
The Ruby Princess (pictured) docked in Sydney on March 19 after a tour of New Zealand and let 2700 passengers leave for their homes around Australia
Passengers disembark from the Ruby Princess at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal on February 8 before the ban on cruise ships was put in place
A woman aged her 70s who was taken from the Ruby Princess to hospital after the ship docked in Sydney died on March 24
Daily Mail Australia found the cruise ship is responsible for at least 227 cases across the country, with 121 in NSW, 52 in Queensland, 44 in South Australia, at least eight in WA, and two in the Northern Territory.
The difference may be due to new cases being discovered since the figures were collated for the national medical briefing.
Mr Kelly said other cases had come from other cruise ships including the Diamond Princess that became stranded in Japan.
Other than cruise ships, Mr Kelly said the majority of cases have come from the US and Europe, in particular the UK and Italy.
Those who walked off the Ruby Princess were not tested for the coronavirus, despite some displaying flu-like symptoms and complaining of feeling sick.
They simply gathered their baggage, stepped ashore wheezing and spluttering and disappeared into Australia’s biggest city.
More than 130 of those aboard the Ruby Princess have now tested positive to COVID-19, making it the single greatest source of infections in Australia since the outbreak began.
A woman aged her 70s who was taken from the cruise ship to hospital after docking died on Tuesday morning.
Other passengers have since spread across the nation on planes, trains and buses, or flown back to their home countries, potentially taking the virus with them.
Ms McCafferty said: ‘Nothing was said at anytime about anyone being sick onboard. It was a distinct lack of information coming through from Princess the entire time,’ she told the BBC.
She said she only learned that passengers with coronavirus had been on the ship when she arrived at Heathrow Airport.
‘I turned on my phone and I started getting all these notifications from people back in Australia saying ‘there’s been confirmed cases on the Ruby,” she said.
‘And I was just absolutely petrified. We had just been on two full flights – what if we had infected someone?’
She said she was suffering from coronavirus symptoms and was self-isolating at home.
Border controls are now in place for South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, with only freight and essential travel exempted. Queensland will close its borders on Wednesday.
The federal government suspended all cruise ships – however some, such as the Ruby Princess (pictured), have only just completed their trips
But the most important border – the one that makes Australia an island continent – is still being breached and the most alarming new infections have come by water.
How cruise ships could continue to bring infected patients into the country has led to blame-shifting, anger and bewilderment.
Cruise ships have been an obvious potential source of infected coronavirus arrivals since the Diamond Princess was quarantined off the coast of Japan in February.
More than 700 passengers of the 3,700 people on board that ship quickly developed coronavirus.
Diamond Princess was forced to stay at sea for almost three weeks before the decision was made to quarantine people onshore.
As coronavirus swept the world, cruise ships were barred from docking in Australian ports for 30 days from March 15.
The federal government granted exemptions to four vessels which were already on their way back to Australia.
Those ships – Ruby Princess, Ovation of the Seas, Celebrity Solstice and Voyager of the Seas – arrived in Sydney between March 18 and March 20. All have had cases of coronavirus since docking.
The NSW government gave the all-clear for the Ruby Princess to berth in Sydney Harbour on March 19, considering its arrival ‘low risk’.
Passengers who arrived on the ship have claimed they were ‘waved through’ the port without facing any health screenings.
Some then spent as long as four days onshore potentially spreading COVID-19 before they were ordered to self-isolate for 14 days via emails and phone calls.
As of Saturday afternoon, Australia had 3,603 coronavirus cases, of which 67 per cent were travel-related, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told a national press conference.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 3,637
New South Wales: 1,617
South Australia: 287
Western Australia: 278
Australian Capital Territory: 71
Northern Territory: 15
TOTAL CASES: 3,637
‘That is the main reason why there will be enhanced measures at the airport that were announced by the Prime Minister yesterday,’ he said.
Professor Kelly said most of the locally acquired cases that had been found had a clear contact with a known coronavirus case, meaning they were successfully tracing contacts and finding the cases to decrease transmission.
Until Wednesday, only those who had returned from overseas and had symptoms or who had contacts with a confirmed case were recommended to be tested.
The recommendations were expanded on Wednesday to include those with severe community-acquired pneumonia without a clear cause, and health care or aged care workers.
Those who spent time in a high-risk location with two or more linked cases are now recomended to be tested in the expanded provisions.
With these restrictions it is unlikely testing could find many community-based transmissions of people with mild or no symptoms who have not travelled.
NSW Health’s website on Saturday said it has the capacity was still only recommending is recommending people with acute, cold, flu-like symptoms who are returned travellers, or a contact of a confirmed case, be tested for COVID-19.
Professor Kelly said the authorities would concentrate on forcing people coming into Australia to quarantine for 14 days, and on testing people.
A Princess Cruises spokesperson said: ‘As New South Wales Health has stated publicly, the Ruby Princess cruise that began in Sydney on March 8 was regarded as low risk for COVID-19. Notwithstanding this assessment, our onboard medical team was rigorous in its treatment of some guests who reported flu-like symptoms and these guests were isolated.
‘In line with existing protocols, the ship reported these cases to NSW Health, which in turn requested swabs to be provided following the ship’s arrival in Sydney, some of which subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
‘It is practice the world over that tests for COVID-19 are not conducted on board cruise ships. The protocol is for swabs to be tested by the relevant public health authority, and this was done in relation to Ruby Princess. Disembarkation of the ship was in line with the then existing process for health clearance for vessels on arrival in port.
‘On disembarkation, guests were aware that anyone arriving in Australia from abroad, irrespective of whether it was by air or sea, would be required by the Australian Government to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This applied to Ruby Princess guests who arrived in Sydney from an overseas port, in this case from New Zealand.
‘Princess Cruises has robust public health standards and practices that are based on the best international public health advice. Ships have sophisticated medical centres that are staffed by medical practitioners and other health professionals.
‘The advice from NSW Health that COVID-19 had been confirmed among Ruby Princess passengers came as a disappointment. We share the public health authority’s concern and have worked closely with them to make direct contact with all passengers.’
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