A passenger from the infamous Ruby Princess cruise has told an inquiry she contracted COVID-19 after a waitress sneezed on her.
“I couldn’t believe that somebody had just sneezed,” she said.
Kavanagh was on board the ship, which docked in Sydney Harbour in March, to celebrate her birthday and her wedding anniversary alongside her husband and two other couples.
She said while the ship was on its way back to Sydney, the group were finishing dinner and being served coffee when a waitress sneezed at their table.
Though she didn’t associate the sneeze with COVID-19 at the time, Kavanagh suffered an upset stomach and cramps within days and ended up testing positive for the virus after flying home to Western Australia and was suffering respiratory failure.
“They then put me in ICU and they intubated me. I went into a coma for eight days,” she told the inquiry.
“Obviously, I’m still not well.
“I’m not as I was when I first got on that ship.
“I certainly would never have gotten on that ship had I known we were going to get so sick.”
Brett Walker SC, who was leading the inquiry, noted that “one normally doesn’t experience contagion in a way of which you know at the time it happens”.
According to ABC News, Australian Government medical advice confirmed sneezing was a symptom of the common cold, not COVID-19.
At least 22 deaths and hundreds of cases of COVID-19 can be linked to the ship, which disembarked around 2,700 passengers in Sydney on 19 March.