The Majestic Princess cruise ship will depart on another trip just hours after docking in Sydney and dropping off 800 Covid-infected passengers.
The cruise liner will set out on an eight-day cruise to Tasmania with a new raft of passengers on board the vessel on Saturday afternoon.
It comes after the cruise liner sailed into Circular Quay at 6am and unloaded 3,300 guests and 1,300 crew following a 12-night trip to New Zealand.
Passengers were told that if they were infected they should arrange private transport so they could isolate at home, however it is not necessary for positive cases to self-quarantine after mandatory isolation was scrapped on October 14.
They have been asked to avoid using public transport to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to the general public.
The cruise ship Majestic Princess with 800 Covid-infected passengers on board has docked in Sydney
A passenger standing on the balcony on the side of the Majestic Princess after it docked in Sydney on Saturday morning
A holidaymaker among the first wave of passengers to disembark the Covid-plagued cruise liner on Saturday
Ambulance crews waited nearby as the cruise ship docked with the first wave of uninfected guests leaving the vessel wearing face masks.
NSW Health has deemed the ship a ‘tier three’ Covid risk level, which is the highest categorisation on a cruise ship, meaning there is a ‘high level of transmission’.
Almost one if four guests have been infected with the virus making it the largest outbreak on a cruise ship since the Ruby Princess in 2020 which led to more than 600 positive cases and 28 deaths.
It comes as Australia enters its fourth wave of Covid with infections predicted to skyrocket as the new BQ.1 and XBB strains become the dominant variant.
Infectious disease expert professor Robert Booy eased concerns saying Australia was better equipped to handle new outbreaks.
‘The advice is to either go and get a booster and, if you do end up with COVID-19, get that anti-viral as quick as you can, if you are eligible… It can stop the virus in its tracks,’ he told Channel Nine’s Today.
‘Most people have got immunity from both infection and vaccination and a combination is called a hybrid, which is really quite strong.’
Holidaymaker Sharon Leslie and her husband Steven said cruise ship workers had acted quickly when the first passengers became infected.
‘We felt safe most of the time … they were cleaning the whole time,’ Mrs Leslie said.
Ambulance crews waited nearby as the cruise ship docked with the first wave of uninfected guests leaving the vessel wearing face masks
Princess Cruises confirmed some guests had tested positive while on the 12-night trip to New Zealand
The Majestic Princess arrived at Circular Quay carrying 3,300 guests and 1,300 crew at about 6am on Saturday (stock image of the Majestic Princess)
‘It’s just disappointing for the cruise industry … and towards the end it did spoil things a bit.’
While Covid infections have recently risen in Australia, former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth declined to talk about the latest wave, saying it is time to ‘move on’ from the pandemic.
Passengers on board the Majestic Princess who aren’t infected were told to wear face masks as they disembarked the vessel.
Princess Cruises confirmed some guests had tested positive while on the 12-night trip to New Zealand.
‘These guests are mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic and are isolating in their staterooms,’ the company said in a statement.
‘We have been proactively preparing for and managing incidences of Covid-19 and continue to work closely with NSW Health including adhering to their guidelines.’
Princess Cruises senior vice president Stuart Allison said the company was helping positive cases arrange transport and accommodation so they could isolate (stock image)
A ‘fourth wave’ of Covid infections has been seen in Australia but residents have been urged not to panic (stock image)
Rules for cruise ships on the eastern seaboard state that those who test positive on board ‘must isolate for five full days from the date of their positive test result’.
Those on board who tested positive received medical care while those disembarking first have already taken a rapid antigen test.
Princess Cruises senior vice president Stuart Allison said the company was helping positive cases arrange transport and accommodation so they could isolate.
‘We also have a range of strict and robust measures in place to ensure our guests and crew are safe, as well as ensuring we limit the exposure of current cases in the community,’ she said.
It comes after NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urged Australians to make sure they were up to date with their vaccinations.
She said there was a ‘fourth wave’ of Covid infections sweeping across the country, but infections were set to peak and then drop in a matter of weeks.
‘The [new Covid] wave is taking off with some trajectory, it will be quite a steep wave and hopefully the decline will be equally as steep,’ Dr Chant told the ABC.
Dr Chant said there was a ‘fourth wave’ of Covid infections sweeping across the country, but infections were set to peak and then drop in a matter of weeks
Dr Chant added that she expects the fourth Covid wave to drop off before December 25 (stock image)
Health officials and experts have said most Australians should get on with their lives despite the arrival of a fourth Covid wave
‘That’s why it’s important the community takes these protective measures now and I can’t stress the urgency – if you’re going to get vaccinated do it immediately.’
Dr Chant added that she expects the fourth Covid wave to drop off before December 25.
‘The wave may well peak before Christmas and we may be on the decline,’ she said.
Cases have risen in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, with the Sunshine State recommending masks be worn in some indoor settings.
The state also recommended residents to take a test every two days if they are living with someone who has tested positive to Covid.
The ABC’s chief health correspondent, Dr Norman Swan, said Australia had moved ‘into the next wave’ and gave a grim warning of further deaths.
‘[Cases are] going up, Victoria and NSW 20 per cent in the last week, South Australia 27 per cent, Tasmania 40 per cent,’ he told RN Breakfast on Friday.
‘It’s really hard to tell the death statistics at the moment, sadly they will follow.’
The state also recommended residents to take a test every two days if they are living with someone who has tested positive to Covid (stock image)
But Dr Coatsworth has urged Aussies to ‘move on’ from the pandemic while Deakin University epidemiology chair Catherine Bennett said ‘being fearful isn’t the answer’ when it came to an influx in infections.
‘Get on and do your normal things,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Panic never helps in my view. Being aware of risk changing and responding to that, and managing it, is the best thing you can do.’
Professor Bennett acknowledged residents should be mindful of the latest wave.
‘We are seeing numbers, particularly hospitalisations, push up across country,’ she said.
‘We know from data from overseas, adding Covid variants into the mix, pushes up transmission rates. What it means for individuals is that their exposure risk goes up.’
Professor Bennett said it was important residents listened to the advice from health professionals, received their booster, but not to make drastic changes to their lives.