Cruise ships carrying thousands of people at risk of coronavirus moored off Australia are posing a big headache for authorities.
Cruise ships carrying thousands of people at risk of coronavirus moored off Australia are posing a big headache for authorities, with several refusing to leave.
The COVID-19 national death toll is now 23, after three new deaths today in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
A NSW grandmother died after a holiday on the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which has been linked to dozens of cases and multiple deaths.
The decision to dock the vessel last month is being blamed for a rise in NSW cases.
Border Force have pointed the finger squarely at NSW Health for letting 2700 passengers – some coughing and spluttering - off the cruise to disperse around Australia and abroad. There are eight cruise ships either docked or waiting off the NSW coast.
NSW health chiefs are now considering a military-style operation to fly doctors to them and test passengers and crew. But there are concerns an influx of new patients will flood the health system
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller fears hospitals will be overwhelmed.
"There are thousands of people, potentially, in cruise ships off our coasts that aren't members of our state and if we take them in, then that could well flood our system unnecessarily," he said earlier this week.
Authorities were heavily criticised when the Ruby Princess at Circular Quay on March 19 and allowed some 2700 passengers to disembark despite some travellers having respiratory symptoms.
The President of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises, has condemned the actions of NSW Police, saying they put the whole $5 billion industry at risk in Australia.
P&O Cruises has a vessel, the Pacific Explorer, docked in Sydney but says NSW Police today told the cruise liner it had to leave.
"There is no illness on Pacific Explorer. No passenger or crew member has at any point tested positive for COVID-19, yet today the NSW Police instructed Pacific Explorer to leave Sydney harbour – the ship's own port," Sture Myrmell said.
"It is unprecedented for Australia's homegrown cruise line to be ordered to leave Australia."
"We understand the pressure governments are under to slow the spread of coronavirus. It is a massive task.
"In terms of our ships, we have only wanted the opportunity to take them out of service and keep them and our crews safe until this is all over – and it will be over one day.
"It is bitterly disappointing that short term responses are putting industry, jobs and people at risk."
Meanwhile, the final passengers disembarked from the coronavirus-afflicted Artania cruise ship, which remains docked in Fremantle despite being told to sail back to Germany.
The Department of Home Affairs says 12 people who were not fit to travel by aircraft on Sunday, when about 850 German passengers were flown home, disembarked yesterday
Dozens of others on board who were previously confirmed as suffering from COVID-19 are being treated at Perth hospitals, with some in intensive care.
The ship remains at the port with around 450 crew on board, despite being ordered to leave by the Australian Border Force although federal Attorney-General Christian Porter says it does not need to go immediately.
According to the Australian Border Force, the government is working with the industry "to bring everyone currently on a cruise safely back to port and to their home destinations either in Australia or overseas."
The federal government has restricted all cruise ships from entering Australia until June 15, including direct arrivals and round-trip cruises.
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- Reported with AAP
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-cruise-ships-covid-19-infections-pose-big-health-risk/d49341db-274e-45a4-ac38-eacd313dacb9