NSW Special Commission of Inquiry finds “serious mistakes” by NSW Health.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has this evening released the highly anticipated full report of the state’s Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess disembarkation on 19 March.
The release was welcomed by Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz, who noted that the report “confirms that none of our people – the Captain, the ship’s doctor, or members of our shore side port agency team – misled public authorities involved in Ruby Princess being permitted to disembark guests”.
“This finding is of great importance to us because it goes to the integrity of our people,” she said.
“In our more than 20 years in Australia we have always sought to cooperate honestly and professionally with officials in accordance with the regulatory environment,” she said.
The report found that NSW Health and Carnival Corporation should have ensured that the ship’s doctor was made aware of changes to the definition of a “suspect case” on 10 March, and said the company should have also informed passengers and crew that there were suspect cases of COVID-19 on board.
The report noted errors by the Australian Border Force which had incorrectly advised passengers that a 14-day period of self-isolation would commence from the date of departure from the last overseas port visited by the ship.
A directive to allow passengers to travel onwards internationally and interstate after disembarking “did not appropriately contemplate or comply with” the terms of a Public Health Order which came into effect on 17 March requiring all cruise ship passengers entering the state from another country to isolate for 14 days.
The report found a number of “serious mistakes” by NSW Health including failure to ensure swabs were collected, delays in obtaining test results and failure to ensure ill passengers were isolated in cabins when the vessel arrived.
A decision by the agency’s Expert Panel to assess Ruby Princess as “low risk” was “as inexplicable as it is unjustifiable,” the Commissioner found.
Swartz said Princess would now take some time to consider the Commissioner’s findings, with no further comment possible due to ongoing legal proceedings.
More details in Monday’s issues of Travel Daily and Cruise Weekly.