On the 19th of March, the Ruby Princess Cruise Ship was allowed to dock at Circular Quay in Sydney, Australia and all 2700 passengers were given the green light to disembark although 13 passengers had exhibited virus symptoms before reaching Sydney. Out of those 13 passengers who initially showed COVID-19 symptoms, 4 ultimately tested positive to the virus. Now, 15 of Australia’s 51 deaths have been Ruby Princess passengers. So how were the passengers and crew allowed to leave the ship before the test results were known?

The primary issue is communication. What messages were passed between the Ruby Princess, the cruise ship company, the NSW Government and the Port Authority? These are the areas being scrutinised by a homicide investigation announced by NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller.

Recent discoveries have found that an Australian Border Force officer told a Sydney harbourmaster to allow the Ruby Princess to dock, despite the ship having as many as 140 passengers in isolation on board. The officer was worried about the number of people in isolation, so the harbourmaster suggested docking the ship at Bradley’s Head instead of entering into Sydney Harbour. According to current sources, after checking with a supervisor, the Border Force officer allowed the ship to dock in Sydney Harbour.

Why was this decision made? After already witnessing the debacle of the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship in Japan surely every measure would be taken to ensure that all passengers were cleared of the virus? This should never have occurred, and it has already resulted in the loss of life for 15 individuals. This is an utterly preventable situation.

The question remains whether the Carnival company or crew were transparent in conceptualising the actual patient and crew health conditions regarding COVID-19 infection. This is the first step in determining who is at fault for this severe action. If they passed on false information to manipulate the opinions of Australian officials, then they must take full responsibility.

However, if all the appropriate information was provided to Australian officials, we must learn from this situation and ensure that it cannot happen again. Government ministers and other officials have tried their best to distance themselves from the matter and appeal for innocence, but there needs to be answers.

NSW Health has questions to answer. Leaked email exchanges show health officials appear not to have asked officers on the Ruby Princess whether passengers had travelled to many of the countries that were designated high and medium risk. Instead, they only requested whether passengers had been through China or Iran in the last 2 weeks or South Korea after March 5th, 2020. Although the cruise ship clearly stated about a few cases of virus symptoms, the vessel was cleared to disembark without an onboard assessment.

The blame game has become so extreme that it has now required a police investigation. This is severely disappointing. Carnival, NSW Health and other Commonwealth agencies have been unable to work together, and none of these groups has been able to put up their hand and acknowledge their failure. These are child-like actions which you see in a primary school playground, blaming others and pleading innocence to not get a detention.

Grow up, these are human lives, not a game of handball.  

12 thoughts on “The Ruby Princess Disaster

  1. I suspect it is the very severity of the repercussions which is preventing honest admissions of guilt. There are several parties at fault and none wants to be painted as the villain in the piece. My personal opinion is that NSW Health are most at fault for failing to be sufficiently cautious, and the ship’s Master is at fault for failing to make clear the Covid-19-like symptoms of those who were already sick. Border Force merely acted on the advice provided by NSW Health and the information from the ship’s Master.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes that’s likely true. As the consequences have grown larger and larger, it has become less likely for a party to admit failure.

      I agree that the blame will most likely be placed on NSW Health. How 2700 passengers during a pandemic, with some having confirmed virus symptoms could be allowed to disembark without any health assessment is ridiculous.


  2. Great read
    ABP could have been the heroes here by forcing NSW Health to send a team to check the ship and not allow anyone off. That is their job, to protect our borders.

    And in an unprecedented time, they just followed process.

    Then there’s the stories of the in laws of a Liberal Senator on the ship and how he was instrumental in getting the ship to disembark.

    But in the end, it was a mess from NSW Health, but ABP didn’t do their job in these unprecedented times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much!

      Very interesting, I hadn’t considered how the Border Force could have been more proactive during these events. I guess they can’t be primarily blamed but they should definitely look at what they should have done better. Unless it is a failure from not doing something, instead of failing from doing something incorrectly.

      It’s a shame that all these police resources have now been spent investigating the situation and all the media coverage. It could have been sorted out more privately, allowing external parties to focus on other issues, but now we have at least a few more weeks trying to get to the bottom of this disaster.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very true, because no one has taken ownership or at least tried to figure out what went wrong, the people who have been affected have been forgotten.

        It’s crazy to think that this has now become more of an issue than the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship in Japan which was reported by almost every news source globally.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It has become a blame game really. The leaked documentation is fascinating because it does show that the Border Force (Border Farce we call it, what a laugh) were aware of the problem somewhat before 4they have publicly stated they were aware. Sigh. Sadly no one wins in this debacle, but hopefully a learning experience!? Border Force maintain the borders and they showed little interest in doing that irrespective of NSW Health’s part in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, hopefully all this information will be brought to life through the investigation. A learning experience indeed, we may no ever face the exact same circumstance but I still think there is much to learn regarding communication between the different parties. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s