Bundaberg Ruby Princess passenger demands answers

RUBY Princess is the vessel that has been linked to 600 cases of coronavirus and 10 deaths and one passenger is demanding answers from New South Wales Health.

Sharon resident Bob Henderson was a passenger on the Ruby Princess cruise ship that travelled to New Zealand and returned back to Sydney on March 8.

After travelling for 13 nights, Mr Henderson said passengers were woken with an important announcement, about 10.30pm on the night prior to arriving at the Sydney dock.

"We were advised by the captain that some forms were being delivered to our cabins and we were initially instructed to fill them out and retain them for disembarking and it was quite unusual," Mr Henderson said.

"About half an hour later, we were advised that anyone who had answered 'yes' to any of the questions were to take their forms to reception."

The paperwork, which the NewsMail has obtained, included a letter from the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and a traveller record form for passengers to answer a series of questions.

It explained anyone that had been in China or another high-risk area within 14 days was required to undergo testing and would need to quarantine from home.

Passengers were also asked to list any physical symptoms they had experienced, including a fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough and shortness of breath.

Mr Henderson said passengers were allocated different disembarkment times, but when they arrived at the departure area, it was full of people and it appeared no one had been permitted remove themselves from the cruise ship.

"It was a real problem for American tourists that had international flights booked to get home," Mr Henderson said.

"Time ticked away when an announcement finally came over the loudspeaker to advise New South Wales Health was conducting tests on people that answered yes on their questionnaire and all passengers were required to wait, as if one person tested positive, we would all be required to go in quarantine.

"Anxiety took over with around 5000 passengers and crew waiting for the end news and that news finally arrived at 9.30am that none of the passengers test results had come back positive, so we were all free to disembark."

Mr Henderson said they decided against visiting family as they had initially planned and returned to Bundaberg through a connecting flight to Brisbane and drive home.

He said he chose to self-isolate and reduce the risk of spreading the virus if it had been passed on, despite no passenger testing positive.

Mr Henderson said while the cruise ship had faced public scrutiny recently, he felt the public deserved answers from New South Wales Health too.

"This shows that the new passengers boarding the Ruby were the carriers of the virus that has infected so many," he said.

"Princess Cruises are a very popular cruiseline for people over 60 years old, with very few kids on-board and as we know, that is the demographic most susceptible to and at risk of coronavirus.

"Why did New South Wales Health not carry out the same procedure when the Ruby returned, especially when the ships medical personnel reported that they had passengers on board with respiratory issues?"

A spokeswoman from NSW Health said they were unable to comment further about the situation at this time.

"NSW Health will continue to provide daily updates in relation to confirmed cases of COVID-19 and where appropriate identify the source of infection if known," the spokeswoman said.

"Police are currently undertaking a criminal investigation into the events surrounding the Ruby Princess and as such, it would be inappropriate for NSW Health to comment further on the matter."

The NewsMail also sought comment from the NSW Minister for health and medical Brad Hazzard, but no response was received.



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