A cruise ship is seen at Circular Quay in Sydney. Picture: Reuters
A cruise ship is seen at Circular Quay in Sydney. Picture: Reuters

Three test positive for coronavirus on Ruby Princess cruise ship docked in Sydney

By Frank Walker Time of article published Mar 20, 2020

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Sydney - Two passengers and a crew member on a cruise ship that has docked in Sydney have been found to have tested positive for coronavirus, health authorities said Friday.

The Ruby Princess docked in Sydney on Thursday after a cruise around New Zealand with 2,700 passengers on board with 1100 crew.

When the ship arrived at port, doctors tested 13 people on board who felt unwell. The rest were allowed to go home and told they needed to self-isolate for 14 days.

The tests took 24 hours to come back, and health authorities said Friday three people had returned positive tests.

"Two of the three positive results were people who were passengers on board the ship," New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters.

The infected crew member is confined to the ship which is now anchored off the coast south of Sydney. Five cruise ships are now anchored off the coast, with only crew on board.

Hazzard said health officials were contacting the 2,700 passengers who had returned home after the cruise to ensure they were complying with the 14-day self-quarantine imposed on all people entering Australia from overseas.

Australia's death toll from the virus rose on Friday to seven, with more than 700 people testing positive.

From 9 pm Friday (1000 GMT) only Australian citizens, permanent residents or those with direct family members will be allowed to enter the country.

Meanwhile, prime minister Scott Morrison advised Australians to keep a four-square-metre gap around them in enclosed spaces to stem the spread of coronavirus.

"These are rules we are imposing to slow the spread of coronavirus according to our advice from health experts," Morrison told reporters on Friday.

It comes on top of social distancing measures that have already been applied including no spectators at open sports stadiums and a limit of 100 people in enclosed spaces.

Morrison said schools will stay open despite these new spacing requirements and acknowledged the hospitality industry would take a hard hit. 

Morrison also announced the federal budget will be postponed from mid-May until October due to the "great uncertainty that exists."

He said the crisis will last at least six months, but it could be even longer.

He warned Australians to expect cases of coronavirus to grow, but "there is a way through" the crisis.


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