Ruby Princess coronavirus inquiry slams ‘inexcusable’ mistakes made by NSW Health

Ruby Princess coronavirus inquiry slams ‘inexcusable’ mistakes made by NSW Health
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An inquiry into the Ruby Princess cruise ship has identified “serious”, “inexcusable” and “inexplicable” mistakes by NSW Health.

The ship docked in Sydney on March 19 and about 2,700 passengers disembarked despite signs of illness on board.

A special commission of inquiry investigated the decisions of those involved, including Carnival Australia, NSW Health and Federal Government agencies.

Commissioner Bret Walker SC handed his 315-page report to the NSW Government today and found all passengers on board should have been tested for COVID-19.

He laid bare multiple failings during the “sorry episode”, taking particular aim at mistakes by NSW Health.

This included missing a “significant spike” in illness on board the ship in the days before it docked in Sydney, along with the “inexcusable” delay in testing more than a dozen swabs from the ship.

“It is inappropriate and unhelpful to make recommendations to experts that in truth amount to no more than ‘do your job’,” Mr Walker wrote.

The inquiry said it had been advised of 28 deaths associated with passengers from the ship.

Twenty of the deaths occurred in Australia, with a further eight deaths reported in the United States.

The commission said 663 Australian passengers went on to contract COVID-19, together with 191 crew members.

The inquiry said the total number infected with COVID-19 may never be known due to over a third of the passengers returning overseas.

The Ruby Princess became the Australia’s first major COVID-19 cluster.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would read the report over the weekend and comment early next week.

More to come.



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