The cruise ships linked to state’s virus cases

 

MORE than 50 of Queensland's total COVID-19 cases contracted the virus on just three cruise ships, including a Toowoomba man who died this week after a family holiday.

Queensland Health said last night it had traced 52 of the state's 493 cases of the pandemic coronavirus strain to the Ruby Princess, Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas cruise ships.

The department said 32 Queensland cases had so far been detected among passengers from the Ruby Princess, 16 to Ovation of the Seas and four to Voyager of the Seas.

Cruise ship passengers disembark the Ruby Princess at Circular Quay in Sydney on March 19. Picture: Dean Lewins/AAP
Cruise ship passengers disembark the Ruby Princess at Circular Quay in Sydney on March 19. Picture: Dean Lewins/AAP

Queensland Health is working through a list of thousands of passengers who travelled on those cruise ships to ensure they are quarantining themselves for 14 days and to phone ahead before attending a general practitioner or a fever clinic for testing if they develop symptoms.

Three close family members of Toowoomba man Garry Kirstenfeldt, who died on Wednesday from the pandemic strain of coronavirus, are among Queensland cruise ship passengers who have tested positive to the virus.

They were all passengers on the Voyager of the Seas, which docked in Sydney on March 18.

All are in home isolation grieving his passing. In tributes on Facebook, the 68-year-old, who had an underlying respiratory condition, was described as "a lovely man with a huge heart" who "loved to have fun".

 

 

Almost 2700 passengers were controversially allowed to disembark from the Ruby Princess cruise ship at Sydney's Circular Quay on March 19 after NSW Health deemed the ship "low risk".

Since then, more than 130 Australians who were on board the ship have tested positive to the new virus, including a Sydney woman in her 70s who later died.

Mr Kirstenfeldt is among 13 Australians who have lost their lives after contracting COVID-19, all of them elderly. At least four of them - almost a third - had been on cruises in the days before their deaths.

Australia's first death from the virus, James Kwan, 78, who died in a Perth hospital on March 1, had been on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. A West Australian in his 70s died yesterday after holidaying on a cruise.

Health Minister Steven Miles said Mr Kirstenfeldt's death "should serve as a reminder to us all that this virus will kill".

Toowoomba resident Garry Kirstenfeldt, who died after a cruise on the Ruby Princess. (Facebook photo)
Toowoomba resident Garry Kirstenfeldt, who died after a cruise on the Ruby Princess. (Facebook photo)

"That is why we are taking it all so seriously," Mr Miles said.

"It could kill somebody you know. They could have caught it from you. That is why it is so important that absolutely everybody complies with the social distancing measures that we have put in place.

"Whether you're young or old, rich or poor, we need every single Queenslander to comply with these rules. They will only work if we all do it."

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young yesterday implored people to stay home if they had any symptoms at all.

"We are still seeing people go to work for three or four days unwell, then think this might be COVID-19, get tested, and yes it is," Dr Young said.

"We have to do an enormous amount of contact tracing.

"We have to require a large number of people to go into quarantine.

"If we could just stop that one problem.

"If every single Queenslander, all five million of us, if we get unwell, just stay home. It's the best advice any time and now it's more important than ever.

"I understand that people have jobs that they have to do. I understand that some people won't get paid and I realise how difficult that is.

"But that is my absolute imperative that I'm asking of every Queenslander.

"If you are sick, stay home."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as The cruise ships linked to state's virus cases



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