A cruise ship with hundreds of Covid-positive passengers has docked in Sydney, Australia, after being hit by a wave of infections.
The Majestic Princess cruise ship was about halfway through a 12-day voyage when an outbreak of cases was detected, Carnival Australia president Marguerite Fitzgerald told reporters at a news conference on Saturday.
The ship had 4,600 passengers and crew on board at the time, according to CNN affiliate Nine News.
After mass testing 3,300 passengers, about 800 tested positive for Covid-19, as did a small number of crew members, Fitzgerald said.
“All of the positive cases were mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic, and those guests were isolated in their staterooms and then separated from unaffected guests,” Princess Cruises spokeswoman Briana Latter told CNN.
Cruise operators separately escorted those infected off the ship and advised them to complete a five-day isolation period, CNN affiliate Nine News reported.
Those who tested negative were allowed to leave the ship, according to a statement from New South Wales Health.
“Carnival has advised NSW Health that they are assisting passengers with Covid-19 to make safe travel arrangements,” the statement added.
The latter said the outbreak on board the Majestic Princess was “reflective of an increase in community transmission in Australia”.
Australia has seen an increase in Covid cases recently, leading to more caution on the part of the government.
The New South Wales Department of Health has recorded 19,800 new cases of Covid-19 and 22 deaths in the past week.
The Majestic Princess cruise ship has departed Sydney on its next voyage to Melbourne and Tasmania.
In a later statement, Mr Fitzgerald said Carnival Australia had flown more than 50 international and domestic voyages “with the vast majority of over 100,000 guests unaffected by Covid”.
“However, the emergence of Covid in the community has meant that we have seen an increase in positive cases over the last three trips,” he said.
Fitzgerald said the company is implementing “the most rigorous and stringent measures that go well above current guidelines”, including requiring 95% of guests over the age of 12 to be vaccinated and testing staff and passengers for Covid earlier to embark
“We take our responsibility to keep everyone safe very seriously. This extends not only to looking after our guests, but also to the wider community in which we operate and visit,” Fitzgerald said.
The Majestic Princess is not the first Carnival cruise affected by a Covid outbreak.
At least three other ships in the company’s Princess fleet, Ruby Princess, Diamond Princess and Grand Princess, experienced outbreaks before the pandemic.