More than 150 passengers on the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship was hit by a gastro virus when the vessel docked in Sydney on Thursday morning after a 12-day trip to New Zealand.
NSW Health confirmed 158 of the 4,000 passengers onboard suffered from norovirus gastroenteritis after it arrived in Circular Quay. The South Eastern Sydney Local Health District said the passengers along with some of the crew were attended by the ship’s doctor.
Stephen Dinale, who was on his first cruise trip with his wife, said he saw people vomiting in pools or running through the corridors, hands covering the mouths.
“You would be [in] the elevator and I would be hitting the button with my knuckle and other people would be running down the corridor holding their mouths, a lot of the staff would be wearing face masks, gloves,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Dinale as saying. “I’m going to kiss the ground. Not that I like the pavements of Sydney but I’m going to be kissing the ground as soon as I get out of customs.”
The gastro outbreak was announced by the cruise’s captain shortly after it left Fiordland National Park, on New Zealand’s South Island, on the boat’s loudspeaker.
The passengers who were unwell were requested not to leave their rooms, which were being cleaned continuously. The pools were also drained and people couldn’t serve their own food. Professor Mark Ferson, the director of public health unit of South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, said that no patient had to be admitted hospital and the outbreak was brought under control.
“The ship has instituted maximum control measures, including increased sanitation, and further cleaning and hygiene procedures will occur prior to passengers arriving on board this afternoon,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.
The 9 News reported the Princess Cruises said in a statement that 35 passengers have still not recovered. Passengers who will be boarding from Sydney on Thursday have been told that there will some delay because of the cleaning.