The scenes were reminiscent of the arrival of the Ruby Princess in Sydney in March 2020, a cruise ship outbreak that led to about 900 cases and 28 deaths.
But pandemic experts said community concerns about the Majestic Princess outbreak were likely out of proportion, noting that it was important to remember that the Ruby Princess outbreak occurred at a time before widespread immunity to the virus. virus by vaccination and previous infection.
NSW reported 19,800 new cases of COVID-19 last week.
Professor Catherine Bennett, chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, said it is likely that only a fraction of the 800 cases would have been discovered had they been on land, and dismisses any thought the outbreak will have an impact on case numbers. of the state.
“We’re probably counting only 10 percent of cases right now,” Bennett said. “Not only that, but the ones that we really won’t test are those asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases.
“These cases [on the ship] have been detected by mandatory tests, and now they are being masked and told to be careful. This is a known, small risk in a sea of the largely unknown.”
Associate professor James Trauer, the chief of epidemiological modeling at Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine, agreed.
“I don’t think it’s anything to panic about for the rest of Sydney…it’ll really be a drop in the ocean,” he said.
Trauer said the biggest concern would be if those on the cruise, who are generally older, start visiting vulnerable people, such as aged care residents, while they are contagious.
It is no longer mandatory for NSW residents who test positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate. However, NSW Health strongly advises people who are ill or have tested positive to stay at home until their symptoms resolve and not to visit people in elder care, disability care or hospital for at least seven days.
Fitzgerald said the company’s response to the outbreak had been in the planning stages for months and that COVID-positive passengers “had been advised not to use public transport when disembarking”.
Passengers waiting aboard the Majestic Princess on Saturday morning for an eight-day voyage to Tasmania were postponed until late afternoon so that the ship could be cleaned thoroughly.
NSW Health was contacted for comment.