Discrepancies between two patient logs from Ruby Princess may have risen the ships risk profile from “low” to “medium”, according to government authorities.
The list of sick patients that was sent to NSW Health prior to the ship’s arrival in Sydney Harbour showed 128 sick people over 14 days, with 24 showing high temperature and six more with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
The Australian has since reported that updated patient logs sent to NSW Health on 20 March, the day after the ship docked, reveal up to a dozen more people reporting to the ships medical centre with flu-like symptoms.
Health authorities told the Australian the extra names would have almost certainly changed the ships biosecurity rating from “low” to “medium” which would have meant health officers would need to board the ship to conduct a thorough screening of passengers.
However, the ship was graded low-risk and passengers were allowed to disembark without any screening on arrival.
Doctor Ilse Von Watzdorf, a senior doctor who was on board the ship, said she would not have let passengers disembark when they did.
NSW Health contacted Von Watzdorf to ask why some of the swabbed passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 were not on her original log and was told there had been updates to the log after passengers had disembarked.
“I had the final updated log in a draft box,” Von Watzdorf said, according to the Australian.
“It had just – the day just became – I did not have enough hours, I think.”
Meanwhile, chief medical officer Brendan Murphy told a senate committee that health authorities had conducted a pandemic drill involving a hypothetical outbreak on a cruise ship docked in Sydney Harbour just last May.
Murphy was trying to reassure a senate committee looking into the government’s response to the pandemic.
At least 20 deaths and 700 cases of COVID-19 can be linked to the ship, which equates to around 10 per cent of all cases in Australia.
“In retrospect, there were some decisions made that everyone regrets … clearly there were mistakes made,” Murphy told the committee, according to The Australian.
“Everyone was doing their best in tricky and tense times at what was probably the peak of the outbreak.”
Princess Cruises declined Travel Weekly’s request for comment.