THE COVID 19 CRUISE SHIP

A Ruby Princess pas­sen­ger with Covid-19 has passed on the po­ten­tially deadly virus to a Hawke's Bay per­son. The pas­sen­ger vis­ited at least seven lo­cal busi­nesses or or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Hawke's Bay Today - - Front Page - Sahiban Hyde re­ports

The visit of pos­si­bly Covid19 in­fected pas­sen­gers from cruise ship Ruby Princess in Napier has ex­posed one of the ma­jor faults of the pre­ven­tion sys­tem, claims the boss of the bus com­pany which runs tours for most cruise ship vis­i­tors in Hawke’s Bay.

Katie Ni­mon, the gen­eral man­ager of Ni­mon’s, was speak­ing yes­ter­day af­ter lat­est de­tails on Covid19 linked a Hawke’s Bay case with the visit of the liner to Napier on March 15, the last stop be­fore the cruise was called off early and the Ruby Princess headed for Syd­ney, where 2647 pas­sen­gers dis­em­barked.

One of 133 cases now con­firmed among those on the cruise, av­er­ag­ing about 1-in-40 of those aboard, the Hawke’s Bay case cre­ates an­other clus­ter of peo­ple to be tested and a pos­si­ble out­break.

It was also among 78 new cases of the virus up to 9.30am yes­ter­day, , re­vealed in the daily brief­ing by Direc­tor-Gen­eral of Health Ash­ley Bloom­field, and in­creas­ing the to­tal to 283 in the four weeks since the first case was dis­closed on Fe­bru­ary 28.

Ni­mon said the com­pany at the time the Ruby Princess berthed, af­ter an overnight voy­age from Welling­ton, had no idea that Covid19 was sus­pected to have in­fected pas­sen­gers on board.

It has since been re­vealed that on the pre­vi­ous day five peo­ple aboard were tested in Welling­ton for Covid-19 af­ter show­ing flu-like symp­toms, but the results were neg­a­tive.

The ship was al­lowed into Napier the next morn­ing, without fur­ther check­ing of pas­sen­gers, and 25 Ni­mon driv­ers were then in­volved in shut­tling more than 1000 peo­ple from the berth at the Port of Napier to the city, and up to 800 pas­sen­gers then went on vis­its through­out the Napier-Hast­ings area.

Ni­mon said she learned that swab­bing dur­ing the voy­age had re­vealed three pas­sen­gers and one crew mem­ber with the virus only af­ter the ship ar­rived in Syd­ney on March 19.

Many of the com­pany’s driv­ers were over 70, and re­turned af­ter­wards to driv­ing school buses car­ry­ing thou­sands of stu­dents through­out Napier and Hast­ings.

“None of our driv­ers would have turned up for work if they knew there was a risk,” she said, ad­ding it was a “ma­jor, ma­jor” fail­ure that the com­pany hadn’t been in­formed ear­lier.

Since that time, driv­ers had been trans­port­ing thou­sands of school stu­dents daily.

All the driv­ers were stood-down for self-iso­la­tion as soon as the sit­u­a­tion was re­vealed last Fri­day. She said she had asked at the time if the driv­ers should all be tested but was told only if they showed symp­toms.

“Now of course we know there are many more than just three cases,” she said.

“If any­one knew about the ill­ness and let the boat still come to Napier it’s re­ally poor form.”

Her com­ments come on the same day Hawke’s Bay had three newly con­firmed cases of Covid19 and one of them could be re­lated to com­mu­nity trans­mis­sion. The lat­est three take the to­tal Covid-19 cases in Hawke’s Bay to six.

Direc­tor-Gen­eral of Health Ash­ley Bloom­field said the Ruby Princess was be­ing treated as a po­ten­tial vi­ral clus­ter when peo­ple on the ship had gone to a win­ery.

He said a per­son in Hawke’s Bay had be­come in­fected with Covid19 af­ter com­ing into contact with a pos­i­tive case on the Ruby Princess — but that had not been a close contact.

Hawke’s Bay Dis­trict Health Board’s Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer of Health, Dr Rachel Eyre said two of the three cases re­lated to peo­ple

re­turn­ing from over­seas travel and these peo­ple were re­cov­er­ing well and had been in im­me­di­ate iso­la­tion since re­turn­ing from over­seas.

Flight in­for­ma­tion is avail­able here: https://www.health.govt.nz/our­work/dis­eases-and-con­di­tions/covid19-novel-coro­n­avirus/covid19-cur­rent-cases

The third case was not linked to over­seas travel.

But it did have a connection to the Ruby Princess.

Dr Eyre said any­one who had Covid-19 symp­toms, came into close contact for 15 min­utes or longer with pas­sen­gers from the ship and was now symp­to­matic, should call their GP.

If some­one was symp­to­matic and in iso­la­tion with oth­ers they should fur­ther dis­tance them­selves and have as lit­tle contact as pos­si­ble with any­one else in their house­hold, not share crock­ery and be vig­i­lant re­gard­ing clean­ing and hand washing.

While this case was still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated and Hawke’s Bay Dis­trict Health Board’s Pub­lic Health team and the Na­tional Contact Trac­ing Service were fol­low­ing it up, it was known that places vis­ited by the con­firmed case while symp­to­matic were:

■ Gla­dys Mary Care Home, Ta­matea, March 17-20

■ Ho­hepa, Clive, March 18

■ Har­vey Nor­man, Hast­ings, March 19, 10am

■ Cor­nu­copia, Hast­ings,

■ Weleda, Have­lock North, March 19

■ Te Mata Bak­ery, March 19

■ Mis­sion Win­ery, March 19

Dr Eyre said while the chance of in­fec­tion be­ing passed on while the per­son was visit­ing shops and winer­ies was low, any­one with symp­toms of Covid-19 should call their GP.

Close con­tacts from these lo­ca­tions would al­ready have or will shortly be con­tacted by mem­bers of the Pub­lic Health team or Na­tional Contact Trac­ing Service, if there was a greater risk of in­fec­tion. Now ev­ery­one was in iso­la­tion, it would help pre­vent wider spread, Dr Eyre said.

In re­la­tion to the Gla­dys Mary Care Home, the prob­a­ble case was from the rest home’s de­men­tia com­mu­nity.

A state­ment from Carolyn Cooper, the man­ag­ing direc­tor of Bupa Vil­lages, said the res­i­dent was a mem­ber of a 14-per­son com­mu­nity.

“To en­sure the safety of our res­i­dents and staff, the 14-per­son com­mu­nity has been placed into im­me­di­ate iso­la­tion. Ad­di­tional in­fec­tion pre­ven­tion con­trol mea­sures were im­me­di­ately put in place, in­clud­ing ad­di­tional re­stric­tions, equip­ment and hy­giene mea­sures,” she said.

The home was closed to all vis­i­tors.

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