Three people on a cruise ship that visited New Zealand before returning to Sydney have come down with the CCP virus, prompting pleas for all 3800 people on board to go into self-isolation for a fortnight.
At least one additional passenger is also unwell and likely to have the virus.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
The Princess Cruises-operated Ruby Princess ship returned to Sydney on Thursday with 1100 crew and 2700 passengers on board.
Doctors tested 13 unwell patients for COVID-19 with three found to have the virus. One person who tested positive was a crew member.
“Two of the three positive results were people who were passengers on board the ship,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters on Friday.
“One of those passengers was not at all well, and was taken off the ship and has been taken to a hospital here in Sydney and is being cared for. That particular passenger, now patient, is not particularly well.”
The other passenger had since travelled to Tasmania and was now being cared for in that state’s health system.
Hazzard said there was a fourth person who did not test positive to COVID-19 but had since attended a Sydney emergency department and undergone new tests.
A fifth person in Tasmania suffering coronavirus-like symptoms is also under the microscope.
Hazzard said it was possible other people on board now had COVID-19 and everyone needed to self-isolate for 14 days.
The 1100 crew members remain on the ship off the NSW coast and will self-isolate on board.
The passengers were permitted to disembark on Thursday and Hazzard implored all 2700 to self-isolate and avoid making others ill.
He encouraged the passengers to be vigilant for symptoms of fever and cough.
“If they are doing what they’ve been asked to do then they’ll be at home in quarantine for 14 days, and that would present no concerns whatsoever to us in NSW,” Hazzard said.
“To the community—if you know somebody who came in yesterday from the Ruby Princess, do our community a very big favour and have a chat and make sure that they are given this clear message: Put yourself in a self-isolation.”
That message was on Friday reiterated by Prime Minister Scott Morrison who said the recommendations of health authorities should be followed.
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said all passengers had been contacted by text and email with authorities now making follow-up phone calls.
She said the cruise ship company would take care of the Ruby Princess crew.
The number of Australians among the crew remains unclear.
“They have doctors on board the ship, they have ICU facilities, they have care,” Chant told reporters.
“With all the passengers off the ship, they have the ability to reallocate all the crew to single rooms with bathrooms.”
Australia now has 756 confirmed cases and 7 deaths.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday afternoon introduced a new social distancing rule, expanding the required distancing per person to four square meters for indoor gatherings, which have already been restricted to 100 people.
The limit comes along with a slew of other measures to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
That means a room of 100 square meters should only have 25 people in it. Such measures will affect offices, restaurants, and other places. The 4-meter limit also applies to outdoor gatherings, exempting food markets. However, food markets must still limit foot traffic and ensure that stalls are not too overpopulated to reduce transmission risk.
People should keep about 1.5 meters from others, and those who feel unwell must stay home, Morrison said.
“There will be cases of community contact where it’s not suspected and they might just get a sniffle or a cold, the sort of thing that many of us have soldiered through,” he said. “We can’t do that anymore. Nobody should be going to work or mixing with society or friends, or going out if they are unwell at all.
“Stay at home if you’re unwell,” he said.
President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested that the Chinese communist regime is to blame for the CCP virus, which has spread to more than 160 countries and territories around the world, killing thousands.
“It could have been stopped right where it came from, China,” Trump said during a White House press conference on Thursday. “The world is paying a very big price for what they did,” he said in reference to a question about CCP officials not sharing information sooner about the outbreak when it started.
“It would have been much better if we had known about this a number of months earlier,” the president said, adding that U.S. officials could have moved more quickly if the regime shared information earlier about the CCP virus, which emerged in Wuhan.
Human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 was occurring from at least mid-December 2019 in Wuhan, according to a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 29.
The paper examined data from the first 425 confirmed cases in Wuhan and found that “there is evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts since the middle of December 2019.”
Chinese authorities did not confirm human-to-human transmission until Jan. 20—almost three weeks after the disease was first officially reported on Dec. 31, 2019. The first patient reported with the virus exhibited symptoms on Dec. 1.
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.