‘This virus can’t break us’: Relieved Ruby Princess crew members dance with joy as they disembark after spending weeks on board coronavirus-stricken ship
- Crew members are leaving the Ruby Princess after two weeks in Port Kembla
- At least 49 staff left the boat on Tuesday, with more expected in the coming days
- Around 1,000 crew still remain on the boat, which is set to leave on Thursday
- The ship sailed into Sydney in March and let 2,700 passengers disembark
- There were no health checks and 600 passengers were infected and 21 died
- The Ruby Princess is the biggest single source of COVID-19 infection in Australia
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Crew members on the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship the Ruby Princess have started disembarking from the boat two days before its scheduled departure.
At least 49 crew members from six countries got off the ship on Tuesday and have been transferred to hotels after being docked at Port Kembla for more than two weeks following a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
Around 1,000 more people are still on board the vessel, with the ship’s PA announcing to staff that ‘this virus can’t break us, it actually has one design fault – it makes us stronger.’
Staff were told they will receive a letter regarding their compensation and salary this week.
A man waves back to crew on board the Ruby Princess after departing the vessel on Tuesday
Forty-nine crew members from six countries left the ship on Tuesday and will be transferred to hotels
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the health and safety of crew and the wider community would continue to be the priority.
‘The movement of the first crew contingent today is an important milestone, and has us one step closer to the Ruby Princess leaving Australian waters,’ Mr Fuller said in a statement on Tuesday.
One of the crew members leaving the ship on Tuesday has tested positive for the coronavirus and will be taken to a NSW Health-managed hotel for 14 days of quarantine before returning home, NSW Police says.
The remaining 48 crew members have tested negative and arrangements are being made for flights to their home countries.
Around 1,000 crew remain on the boat, with more expected to leave the vessel in the coming days
Army officials with departing passengers luggage outside the Ruby Princess in Port Kembla
Passengers are screened by medical staff after disembarking the ship before their transfer
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 6,641
New South Wales: 2,969
Western Australia: 545
South Australia: 435
Australian Capital Territory: 104
Northern Territory: 28
TOTAL CASES: 6,641
Italian personal trainer Byron Sodani told the ABC he was worried about leaving the ship.
‘I am feeling very nervous because until I am on that plane anything can happen,’ he said.
‘I am really happy that this experience is over.’
NSW Police says more crew members will disembark the Ruby Princess in coming days, but a significant number will remain on board and return with the ship to its port of origin.
Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said the ship was on track for a Thursday departure.
‘I think in rough estimates there will still be hundreds of people left on that boat,’ Mr Worboys told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
Hotel staff wearing protective face masks and gloves handle passengers luggage after disembarking the ship
‘There needs to be a crew to sail the boat, but also there will be people that will want to stay on that ship to return as well.’
More than 600 infections and 21 deaths are linked to the Ruby Princess after almost 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney Harbour on March 19.
No health checks were done on any of the passengers and many got on domestic flights or cross-state trains while unknowingly infected.
The ship is the biggest single source of COVID-19 infection in Australia.
Most of the crew have remained in isolation on the ship and 190 of those on board had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Sunday night.
Another 12 crew members infected with coronavirus have previously been evacuated to NSW hospitals.
A woman carries her luggage into a hotel in Sydney after departing the Ruby Princess
Timeline of Ruby Princess fiasco
March 18: The Ruby Princess issues an urgent mayday call for an ambulance for two of its passengers presenting with coronavirus-like symptoms 24 hours before the ship is allowed to dock in Sydney.
March 19: The Ruby Princess arrives in Sydney Harbour. More than 2,700 guests are allowed to disembark without adequate health checks.
March 25: Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram says New South Wales Health is responsible for letting coronavirus patients disembark the ship.
March 29: Several crew members are evacuated and taken to hospital after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
April 2: A 66-year-old crew member is taken off the Ruby Princess for medical treatment. More than 200 crew members are sick and in self-isolation.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian defends the actions of NSW Health and the Australian Border Force and points the finger at the Ruby Princess. She claims staff onboard may have misled NSW Health about the extent of illnesses in passengers.
April 3: Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton alleges Ruby Princess’ operators weren’t transparent about the health of crew: ‘It was ‘clear that some of the companies have been lying about the health of passengers and crew on board’.
April 4: Leaked emails show NSW Health knew of the coronavirus risk on board the Ruby Princess before allowing its thousands of passengers to disembark.
April 5: A criminal investigation is launched into how passengers were able to disembark without health checks
April 8: A team of 30 detectives from state crime, counter terrorism and marine area command start investigating the handling of the Ruby Princess coronavirus scandal. The first briefing into the investigation is held.
April 9: NSW Police clad in PPE equipment raid the vessel, questioning its captain and searching for evidence in a rapid escalation of the criminal investigation.
April 11: NSW Health confirms that at least 46 crew members of the Ruby Princess cruise ship have contracted COVID-19
April 13: NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says patient zero on board may have been a crew member serving meals to hundreds of passengers
April 15: NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announces an independent special commission to investigate the Ruby Princess fiasco