News State NSW News COVID ship off NSW coast as crew isolate

COVID ship off NSW coast as crew isolate

There are more than 100 COVID cases aboard the Coral Princess

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The sister ship of a cruise liner once linked to one in eight coronavirus cases in NSW is cruising down the coast while crew members isolate with COVID-19.

The Coral Princess is expected to dock at Eden on NSW’s south coast on Tuesday before reaching Sydney on Wednesday.

It will remain in Sydney for a day before returning to Brisbane.

Queensland’s chief health officer John Gerrard said on Tuesday there were 118 cases confirmed on board the ship, 114 of them in crew, after 24 infected passengers disembarked in Brisbane earlier this week.

NSW Health said it was liaising with the Coral Princess to monitor the health of crew and passengers.

“While a small number of passengers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since boarding the Coral Princess, their infections were most likely acquired prior to boarding and they subsequently tested positive,” NSW Health said.

The ship carried an “amber” risk level, the second highest of four risk levels – meaning staffing and resources were affected, NSW Health said.

Any passengers disembarking in Eden will need to return a negative rapid antigen test result first, and crew will not be allowed off the ship. Passengers on shore tours will also be advised to weak masks.

A Princess Cruises spokesman said on Tuesday positive cases were detected in crew members through regular surveillance testing, in line with the protocols to resume cruising in May. Those rules also require crew to be vaccinated.

A recent full-screening detected further cases.

“These crew members are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms,” the spokesman said.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said he had received advice about the ship’s journey but the situation was still developing.

Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the outbreak may deter some people from cruise holidays, but governments had been clear about how COVID-19 was being managed in the community.

“The health response now is quite different to what it was at other stages of the pandemic,” he said on Tuesday.

The Coral Princess was the first to make Brisbane’s International Cruise Terminal its home port last month.

At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, another Princess cruise ship, the Ruby Princess, was briefly linked to one in eight NSW coronavirus cases.

The Coral Princess came into NSW as the state revised the COVID-19 reinfection period to a third of its length.

People who have been infected with COVID-19 will now need to re-test if they experience symptoms after 28 days since they exited isolation.

That period is down from 12 weeks, following advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee after the emergence of Omicron sub-variants, which are circulating widely in NSW.

“They are more able to evade immunity gained from previous infection and vaccination reinfection is more likely and possible just weeks after a prior infection,” NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said on Tuesday.

Additional booster shots are available for people over 30 ahead of an expected peak in cases throughout winter.

Dr Chant recommended people at high-risk of serious infection speak to their doctor about accessing antiviral medications that can reduce the severity of the virus.

“Antivirals work best when taken at the beginning of a COVID infection, so it is really important that if you are at high risk, you plan ahead,” Dr Chant said.