Please attribute to a NSW Health spokesperson:
NSW assessments on cruise ships entering our ports has exceeded Federal Government protocols and was doing so, well in advance of the National Protocol*, that was issued on March 6 2020.
Notwithstanding that, the Federal Government has not increased any protocol procedures relating to cruise ships since March 6.
Today, the NSW Government further enhanced its procedures to minimise the risk of passengers with any respiratory conditions whatsoever from departing cruise ships until COVID-19 tests can be carried out on onshore laboratories.
Since February 14, NSW Health has applied assessment procedures to all 63 ships entering Sydney Harbour. The National Protocol does not direct jurisdictions to do such assessments but instead, leave it to the State’s discretion.
Contrary to some public statements made, every cruise liner that has entered NSW ports has been the subject of an assessment well beyond Federal requirements.
The National Protocol states “provided there are no concerns about the COVID-19 risk profile of a ship or suspected COVID-19 cases reported, the human bio-security officer may advise the bio-security officer that pratique can be granted and the ship may be allowed to continue the voyage while samples are being tested”.
NSW Health undertook a full assessment of the Ruby Princess, notwithstanding under the National Protocol in place, it could have chosen not to do an assessment.
NSW Health again followed the National Protocol that states “the ship may be allowed to continue the voyage while samples are being tested”.
However, as of midnight March 22, NSW Health will go even further beyond the National Protocol and its current own State protocols and will hold all cruise ships in port until any patients highlighted as having respiratory issues are tested for COVID-19.
The increased testing regime follows 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19 from the Ruby Princess, including 17 passengers and 1 crew member diagnosed in NSW, and 8 passengers diagnosed interstate (as of 8 pm yesterday).
*National Protocol for Managing Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Risk From Cruise Ships; published March 6 2020.