Three crew members on the cruise ship at the centre of a coronavirus scandal have disembarked and been taken to hospital with serious COVID-19 symptoms.
The Ruby Princess has become a major coronavirus source across Australia after more than 100 infected passengers were allowed off the ship without any checks.
The ship is floating off the coast of Sydney with more than 1,100 crew quarantined on board.
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Pictured: A crew member is taken to an ambulance by health workers in protective clothing on Sunday night. Three cruise ship employees have been taken to hospital from the coronavirus-stricken Ruby Princess with serious COVID-19 symptoms
The three employees are not Australian nationals but needed ‘better care’ than they could receive on the cruise ship, NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said
The ship docked in Sydney Harbour (pictured at Circular Quay on March 19) and more than 100 infected travellers were allowed to disembark the ship without any checks
New South Wales authorities on Monday confirmed three crew members had been ferried off the ship on Sunday night and taken to hospital.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the trio – who are not Australian nationals – were evacuated with the help of police.
‘There were three patients where it was assessed that they needed to be unloaded from that cruise ship and receive better care,’ Dr Chant told reporters on Monday.
‘We’ve always indicated we’d put the lives of the crew-members above everything else.’
Dr Chant has previously said the ship was well-prepared to contain any infections on board.
The infected crew members were taken ashore by a police launch boat in an hours-long operation after the Ruby Princess anchored near Botany Bay.
A spokesman for the Carnival cruise company said the three crew members were suffering acute respiratory symptoms, and thanked authorities for transferring the passengers ‘on humanitarian grounds’.
The number of confirmed Australian cases from the Ruby Princess cruise ship had jumped to 215 by Sunday night.
As of Sunday evening, there are 1,918 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New South Wales including 26 patients in intensive care units.
13 of those patients are requiring ventilators, NSW Health said.
In the wake of the Ruby Princess fiasco, NSW has banned all cruise ship passengers from disembarking until new protocols are in place.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says no one will leave the Ruby Princess unless they have his personal approval.
The three affected crew members were brought ashore in the hours-long operation by a police vessel (pictured) at Botany Bay south of Sydney on Sunday night
‘Anyone who has to come off, comes off at my approval,’ Mr Fuller told reporters 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.
Source: dailymail UK