Ruby Princess docks in Manila


The Ruby Princess. Photo: Jonathan Palombo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The coronavirus-stricken Ruby Princess has arrived in the Philippines, but it’s not clear who will be allowed to disembark.

The ship’s operator Princess Cruises is at the centre of a criminal investigation in Australia by New South Wales Police, as a result of hundreds of passengers being allowed to disembark in Sydney – where the ship had docked in March – without being checked for COVID-19.

The company, which is known for its luxurious cruise ship experiences, is also the subject of a NSW state government inquiry.

Many of the passengers on the Ruby Princess who were experiencing flu-like symptoms were not tested upon leaving the ship by Australian border officials.

Subsequently, all returned travellers who were on board were told to self isolate for 14 days.

The ship has now been linked to seven hundred of Australia’s coronavirus cases, including 21 deaths.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told 2GB she was aware that health authorities had responded to the information that they had and they exceeded the existing safety protocols.

“People need to be assured of a couple of things…everybody on board who disembarked was instructed to self-isolate and that is a fact. Everybody knew that they had to go home and stay at home and that was made clear,” she said.

“Publicly from day one, that [NSW] Health responded to information they had and they exceeded the protocols that existed at that time.”

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton also told 2GB that it had been made clear to the federal government that cruise ships have been lying about coronavirus situations onboard.

While the Philippines coast guard is expected to test the Ruby Princess’s remaining workers, it is not yet known who will be allowed to leave the ship in Manila, other than the Philippine nationals among the crew.