Australian state officials have apologized for their failures in handling a massive Covid-19 outbreak on the Ruby Princess cruise ship.
Last week, an investigation found that NSW health officials made “serious mistakes” in allowing around 2,650 passengers to disembark when the ship docked in Sydney in March.
These people have not been tested for the virus, despite suspected cases on board.
The ship was ultimately linked to at least 900 infections and 28 deaths.
Prior to the second wave of the virus in Australia – which emerged in Melbourne in June – the cruise ship had been the source of Australia’s largest cluster of coronavirus.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was particularly sorry for the 62 people who caught the virus from passengers who had disembarked.
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a loved one – or to be yourself someone who continues to suffer and suffer trauma as a result – and I want to apologize wholeheartedly,” she declared.
What mistakes were made?
After completing an 11-day return cruise to New Zealand, passengers were allowed to leave the ship at Sydney Harbor and take public transport, as well as return domestic and foreign flights.
An investigative report released last Friday found that NSW Health misclassified the vessel as low risk and should have tested sick patients immediately.
It was “inexcusable” that officials did not immediately obtain the results of the coronavirus swab tests carried out on March 19 – the day the ship docked.
However, the investigation found no systemic failures and said the errors had already been recognized by the state government.
After the Ruby Princess debacle, at least a dozen other cruise ships were banned from docking at Australian ports due to their risk of the virus.
Most of the Australian passengers on the Ruby Princess have isolated themselves at home, in accordance with government instructions for returning travelers.
Excluding a cluster in the island state of Tasmania that spread through a hospital system, 62 people in Australia were infected with secondary transmissions.
Ms Berejiklian identified these cases in her apology, saying, “Unfortunately, especially for these 62 people, the lessons were not learned early enough. ”
At least a third of the passengers – or around 950 people – came from abroad.
The investigation found that she was unable to fully assess the number of people who have caught the virus as many have not been able to get tested.