Ruby Princess doctor 'surprised' 2700 passengers spilled into Sydney
The opening day of the Ruby Princess inquiry has already served up its first dramatic moment
The opening day of the Ruby Princess inquiry has already served up its first dramatic moment, with the ship's senior doctor admitting she was "surprised" passengers disembarked so quickly at Sydney.
More than 2700 people dispersed into the city before COVID-19 test results for sick passengers were confirmed.
Ilse Von Watzdorf, the senior doctor on the Ruby Princess, was asked if 2700 people disembarking "en masse" was safe.
"I was surprised at the fact that we didn't get a screen like the previous time," Dr Von Watzdorf said.
She said a number of COVID-19 swabs had been sent off for testing when the ship arrived in Sydney last month, but passengers were allowed to disembark.
Counsel Assisting Richard Beasley SC suggested to the doctor it was a "risk" to permit passengers off the vessel, given the pandemic was intensifying in Australia and around the world.
"I would agree with you," Dr Von Watzdorf replied.
She said if the decision had been hers to make, she "would have waited" for results of the swab.
The NSW government launched the special inquiry into the Ruby Princess, the vessel linked to at least 21 deaths worldwide and more than 700 cases.
Carnival Cruises, the owner of the Ruby Princess, had requested the inquiry be private.
But Bret Walker SC, the man NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian appointed to lead the probe, insisted the hearing should be public.
The infected ship is scheduled to leave Port Kembla, in southern NSW, tomorrow.
Last-ditch negotiations are underway for some crew to be repatriated by charter flights before the ship sails for Manila.
The inquiry continues.
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