Three crew members from the stricken Ruby Princess cruise liner who were suffering acute respiratory symptoms have been admitted to a Sydney hospital.
The three were among 1100 crew quarantined on the ship off the coast of Sydney as the number of confirmed Australian cases from the ship jumped to 215 by Sunday night.
The latest development comes as all 797 passengers from another cruise liner docked at Fremantle, the Vasco da Garma, were allowed to disembark over the weekend. Six hundred went into quarantine in Perth hotels and 197 were transferred to Rottnest Island on Monday.
The New Zealand passengers were flown home on Sunday morning.
And after a stand-off in WA with German cruise liner the Artania about who would treated its infected passengers, 29 out of 41 who tested positive for COVID-19 will be cared for at a private health facility in Perth.
The federal and state governments, along with the Joondalup Health Campus, have struck a deal to care for the patients in the 145-bed private hospital.
“This humanitarian hospital care will be provided in one of the state’s premier facilities, which is fully prepared for and is already treating COVID-19 patients,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Monday.
Joondalup Health Campus chief executive Kempton Cowan it was important that the private sector could help the sick passengers.
“Our teams are ready with the appropriate training and strict infection controls and safety protocols in place,” he said.
The ship’s other passengers have been flown home to Germany.
Three-quarters of WA’s 311 confirmed coronavirus cases have come from flights or cruise ships.
Operators of the Vasco da Gama, CMV Australia said that it was comforting for their passengers to finally learn the state government’s decision.
“Although it took almost five days to receive details of these passenger arrangements since the WA Premier’s initial media announcement, at least we have now been able to let our guests know what the next steps are for them.
“We’re happy to report no cases of COVID-19 on board. After being at sea for over two weeks straight, and with so much change happening around the world, we are glad to give our passengers some certainty,” managing director Dean Brazier said.
Meanwhile, chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the three Ruby Princess crew, who are not Australian nationals, were evacuated with the help of a police launch boat once the ship had anchored near Botany Bay.
“It was assessed that they needed to be unloaded from that cruise ship and receive better care,” Dr Chant said on Monday.
“We’ve always indicated we’d put the lives of the crew-members above everything else.”
In the wake of the Ruby Princess fiasco, NSW has banned cruise ship passengers from disembarking until new protocols are in place.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said no one would leave the ship without his personal approval.
“Anyone who has to come off, comes off at my approval,” Mr Fuller said on Monday.
“Three people needed medical attention and we facilitated the removal of those three people.”
Two Ruby Princess passengers, a 77-year-old woman in NSW and a 75-year-old woman in Queensland, died after contracting COVID-19.
Australian Border Force chief Michael Outram last week said the decision to disembark passengers without adequate checks was the responsibility of NSW Health and the federal agriculture department.
Meanwhile, CMV said the Australian Border Force had ordered the Vasco da Gama to “leave Australian waters as soon as possible” after its passengers disembark. Its 552-strong crew will not be allowed to take flights home.
Te ship and crew were to depart Fremantle for London at 7pm (WA time) on Monday.