Cruise ship with 800 Covid-positive passengers docks in Sydney


A cruise ship carrying hundreds of Covid-positive passengers docked in Sydney, Australia, after being hit by a wave of infections.

The cruise ship Majestic Princess was about halfway through a 12-day voyage when an outbreak of cases was noticed, Marguerite Fitzgerald, president of Carnival Australia, told reporters at a media briefing on Saturday.

According to CNN affiliate Nine News, the ship had 4,600 passengers and crew on board at the time.

After mass testing of 3,300 passengers, around 800 tested positive for Covid-19, as did a small number of crew members, Fitzgerald said.

“All positive cases were mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic, and these guests were isolated in their cabins and then separated from unaffected guests,” Briana Latter, a representative for parent company Princess Cruises, told CNN.

Cruise lines escorted those infected off the ship separately and advised them to complete a five-day isolation period, CNN affiliate Nine News reported.

Those who tested negative were allowed to disembark, New South Wales Health said in a statement.

“Carnival has informed NSW Health that they are helping passengers with Covid-19 make safe onward travel arrangements,” the statement added.

The latter said the outbreak on board the Majestic Princess was “due to an increase in community transmission in Australia”.

Australia has seen a spike in Covid cases of late, prompting more caution within the government.

The New South Wales Department of Health has registered 19,800 new cases of Covid-19 and 22 deaths in the past week.

The cruise ship Majestic Princess has meanwhile left Sydney for her next voyage to Melbourne and Tasmania.

In a later statement, Fitzgerald said Carnival Australia had undertaken over 50 international and domestic voyages “with a vast majority of more than 100,000 guests unaffected by Covid”.
“However, the emergence of Covid in the community has meant that we have seen a spike in positive cases over the past three trips,” she said.

Fitzgerald said the company has taken “the strictest and most stringent measures, well beyond current guidelines”, including requiring 95% of guests over the age of 12 to be vaccinated and staff and passengers tested for Covid before boarding.

“We take our responsibility for the safety of everyone very seriously. This extends not only to looking after our guests, but also to the broader community in which we operate and visit,” said Fitzgerald.

The Majestic Princess is not the first Carnival cruise to be affected by a Covid outbreak.

At least three other ships in the company’s Princess fleet — the Ruby Princess, the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess — experienced outbreaks earlier in the pandemic.

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