‘I’m upset’: Gladys defends virus debacle
The NSW Premier has defended the state's handling of the Ruby Princess cruise liner, saying the ship's staff may have lied to local authorities in a heated radio interview.
Talking to Ben Fordham on 2GB yesterday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW Health acted in accordance with relevant protocols, but that as the situation began to deteriorate it became obvious those protocols had to change.
Since the Ruby Princess was given clearance to dock in Sydney and disembark passengers on March 19, seven people linked to the ship have died, including a man from Toowoomba.
A total of 600 people linked to the ship have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Some 340 of those cases of COVID-19 remain in NSW.
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Fears are held for the 1100 crew members still on the ship, as it remains floating off the coast of NSW. Up to 200 of the crew members have reportedly begun to show symptoms of coronavirus. Yesterday a man, 66, was removed from the ship after NSW Health and independent medical assessors boarded the vessel.
Yesterday Ms Berejiklian defended the actions of NSW Health and the Australian Border Force.
"NSW Health assures me that they exceeded their protocols in what they had to do," Ms Berejiklian said.
"Everybody on board who disembarked was instructed to self-isolate, and that is a fact.
"Of course all authorities needed to step up and tighten the protocols, which is exactly what we did in NSW, which is why Commissioner (Mick) Fuller is now in charge of dealing with all the federal authorities." Commissioner Fuller is the NSW Commissioner of the Police Force.
When pushed by Fordham on how the authorities could have been "so stupid" Ms Berejiklian said the Health Department "relied on advice provided by the ship".
"We've had advice that health authorities followed the protocols," Ms Berejiklian said. "The protocols have since been changed.
"Don't you think I'm upset? I live this and breathe this every day of my life and I'm as upset as everybody else. But it's not right to point the finger until we get to the bottom of what happened."
Ms Berejiklian said there were "several authorities" involved in allowing the ship to disembark passengers.
Fordham asked the Premier if the cruise operators could have given NSW Health "the wrong information".
"That is absolutely potentially the case," the Premier responded.
Ms Berejiklian said since that time, the chief medical officer Dr Kerry Chant advised the Premier to liaise with Border Force and change the protocols.
"I said to Commissioner Fuller, 'Get in touch with Border Force immediately,'" the Premier said.
She said the protocols surrounding cruise ships have since been rewritten.
Originally published as 'I'm upset': Gladys defends virus debacle