When the Ruby Princess cruise ship docked in Sydney last Thursday and 2700 passengers disembarked, numerous people who have since tested positive to the coronavirus were allowed to enter our state and other parts of Australia.
According to a NSW Health spokesperson, there have been 107 cases of coronavirus diagnosed in NSW from the Ruby Princess and 26 cases interstate so far.
Since then the number of cases of coronavirus in NSW has reached over 1000 with two children under the age of 10 also testing positive.
A passenger from the cruise ship aged in her 70s has also passed away on Tuesday morning, becoming the seventh person to die from COVID-19 in NSW.
Following these incidents, the question on everyones lips now is, why were these people allowed to leave the cruise ship before being tested? And who is to blame?
During a press conference this morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was asked this question but refused to point blame in particular. Instead, she said that all authorities need to step up and take responsibility during this crisis.
“Can I say, every single agency needs to take responsibility on our borders, whether it’s a ship at a port or it’s a plane load of people coming in from overseas,” Ms Bereijklian told reporters.
“All authorities have to step up including NSW Health, including other authorities involved and what is really imperative at this time, and we’ve realised this, is strong communication between authorities and everybody stepping up.
“I’m pleased NSW Health has certainly ramped up what we’re doing here in NSW. This is a joint responsibility for all of us, whether you’re a traveller, whether you’re a federal authority, or a state authority and it’s really important for all of us to adhere to what we need to do.
“And I’m pleased that everybody is working closer together because the number one priority for us is to make sure we contain the disease, we control the spread.”
Gladys continued to say that we know that the biggest way that this disease is spreading is through people coming into the country and so we are ramping up security on our borders in order to control this.
“We know from the statistics and we know from what’s occurred since Australia day really that the vast majority of cases to date, and we want it to stay that way, are coming from overseas,” she said.
“Unfortunately, many people that are coming in from planes or other modes of transport have acquired the disease where we know that and that’s why we’re ramping up not just what we do at the borders but also what we do once those people self isolate.”
“People need to know that this is not a joke. You need to take it seriously,” she added.
A reporter in the crowd jumped in to ask the Premier to further explain who exactly is responsible for the cruise ship incident and whether someone will be losing their job over this decision.
“Surely Australians, NSW people need to know who is responsible. It’s not good enough now to just share that blame… Will there be consequences and will someone lose their job?” the reporter asked.
Ms Berejiklian replied saying, “All of us need to take responsibility.”
A spokesperson for NSW Health then stepped in to say that they recognise that COVID-19 was present on the ship and has caused passengers to become infected but said, “no action by NSW Health or otherwise could alter that”.
She also said that most passengers from the ship didn’t begin to show symptoms until after they had already departed the cruise liner.
“We are doing a thorough investigation but please be reassured that these passengers were asked to self isolate, we have followed up all of the contacts of these passengers… in order to prevent any further spread,” she said.
“So the cases we are reporting now occurred and were exposed on the ship. There is no action that NSW Health could have undertaken to prevent those people acquiring the disease.”
“We are taking this matter incredibly seriously and we are doing all we can to make sure any further contacts of those contacts are again locked down,” she added.
The spokesperson said that what they can do now is monitor the passengers by making sure that they are self-isolating and taking the proper precautions to stop the spread.