Ruby Princess Cruise Ship docked In Los Angeles in 2016. Photo by John Konrad
by Colin Packham (Reuters) – The leader of Australia’s New South Wales state apologized on Monday for failing to stop people carrying the coronavirus from disembarking from the Carnival Corporation owned ship, Ruby Princess, in Sydney in March, triggering what was at the time Australia’s worst outbreak.
The apology from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for her government’s poor handling of the outbreak aboard the Ruby Princess came as the number of deaths from a second wave of infection in Victoria state hit a record 25.
Australia has reported 23,500 COVID-19 cases and 421 deaths, far fewer than many other developed nations, but missteps in the handling of the Ruby Princess and possibly also with hotel quarantine in Victoria have proven costly.
“The lessons weren’t learnt soon enough and again I apologise unreservedly on behalf all of those individuals and agencies who made those mistakes,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
A public inquiry in the Ruby Princess outbreak concluded last week that NSW health officials made “inexcusable” mistakes when they allowed about 2,700 passengers, 120 of whom were feeling unwell, to leave the Carnival Corp-owned ship on March 19.
The inquiry found 914 infections could be traced back to the Ruby Princess, mostly among passengers. The outbreak led to 28 deaths.
Berejiklian apologized particularly to the 62 people who contracted the virus from a passenger.
“I can’t imagine what it would be like having a loved one or being someone yourself who continues to suffer and experience trauma as a result,” she said.
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