A cruise ship carrying some 800 COVID-19-positive passengers docked at Sydney Harbor in Australia last Saturday.
The Majestic Princess had roughly 4,000 passengers onboard when it landed in Sydney, about halfway through its 12-day voyage, according to WFAA.
The cruise line, Princess Cruises, said in a statement that all guests onboard were subjected to COVID-19 testing within 24 hours of disembarking, The Washington Post reported. The cruise line added that passengers who tested positive would exit separately and not take public transportation.
“All guests will be masked, regardless of COVID-19 status,” stated Carnival Australia, the cruise operator. “Positive guests will be separated from other guests during disembarkation.”
People who have tested positive for the virus in Australia are no longer required to isolate, according to The Washington Post.
Local authorities, however, have issued guidance stating that COVID-positive individuals onboard ships should be isolated for five days after testing positive.
By the end of the cruise, nearly a quarter of the 4,000 people on board had tested positive for COVID-19. Carnival Australia stated that strict measures had been implemented to prevent the infection from spreading and that the vessel would be thoroughly cleaned before leaving port.
However, once off the boat, not everyone followed local guidance, with new passengers arriving at the terminal on the same path as departing passengers, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.
In a statement to ABC, Carnival Australia said that “the vast majority of guests are doing the right thing … and if anyone is not adhering [to these measures], we are disappointed.”
According to one cruise passenger, the end of a long COVID-riddled journey was much welcomed.
Priscilla O’Riordan’s daughter tested positive for COVID, and the family of four was isolated on the ship during their cruise.
“Everyone started wearing masks, and you could hear people coughing,” she told ABC. “You could see people looking a little bit unwell.”
The family was isolated in their room during their daughter’s illness, and obtaining food and water during the trip was taxing as ship services were down.
Asked when she would plan her next cruise, O’Riordan said, “Probably not for a while.”
Some compared the incident to the Ruby Princess outbreak in March 2020, where roughly 900 people tested positive aboard the cruise ship, 28 of whom died.
Australia is now witnessing the opening of a new wave of COVID-19 infections, partly caused by new sub-variants of Omicron, ABC reported.
Health officials in Australia said last Friday that a 47.3% increase, up to 54,661 cases of COVID-19, have been reported in the previous week.
Recent COVID-19 outbreaks have been of the seemingly milder Omicron sub-variants, and broad resistance to the virus due to high levels of natural immunity from infection and vaccination has significantly mitigated the virus’ severity, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.