The Australian Border Force (ABF) has quashed claims that one of its officers misread Ruby Princess passengers COVID-19 results.
ABC journalist Andrew Probyn reported on 7:30 that a senior ABF officer allowed the 2,700 passengers on board the infamous Ruby Princess cruise to disembark after mistaking negative results for the common flu with negative results for COVID-19.
Since disembarking in Sydney’s Circular Quay on 19 March 2020, the ship has been linked to at least 22 deaths and hundreds of cases of the virus.
The ABF has since refuted 7.30‘s claims and said its officers didn’t have the authority to make biosecurity decisions in relation to the Ruby Princess.
“The ABF responsibility does not include preventing the disembarkation of passengers or crew for human health reasons,” it said in a statement.
The border authorities responsibility is to ensure no one enters Australia with contraband and all passengers and crew are either Australian citizens or have an appropriate visa.
“Any misinterpretation by ABF officers of test results did not make a difference as to whether passengers were cleared to disembark the Ruby Princess. Human health is not the responsibility of the ABF,” it said.
“The continuous criticism of the ABF’s involvement in this matter at this time is unhelpful and distracting as agencies work together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.”
The news comes as passengers and their families who were impacted by Ruby Princess outbreak have filed a class action against Princess Cruises, claiming the line breached Australian Consumer Law.
A Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess outbreak is expected to deliver its findings next month.