The president of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia, Marguerite Fitzgerald, told ABC Business yesterday that there had been an increase in COVID-19 infections on the Coral Princess once the cruise ship reached Fremantle, Australia but the number allegedly remained “limited” and “managed well.” She continued to refuse to release an exact number of infected guests or crew members on the Carnival-owned ship. As we previously reported, Ms. Fitzgerald previously stated  last weekend and on Monday, that only “a small number of our 2,000 guests travelling on the Coral Princess tested positive for COVID-19.” But she recently said “yesterday we undertook testing of all guests on board and we did see an increased number.”

10% of Guests on the Coral Princess Are Infected With COVID-19

The Weekend Australian estimated last Monday that there were currently 100 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on-board the Coral Princess, based on conversations with WA Health. As of yesterday, Ms. Fitzgerald said “I don’t have an exact number, but over 90 per cent of people on board have returned negative tests in the last few days.” Given the fact that there are around 2,000 guests and 900 crew members on the ship, this literally means that the remaining 10% tested positive for COVID-19. This results in 200 infected guests and 90 infected crew members (if Ms. Fitzgerald included crew members as “people on board”).

Australia Remains Under Siege by U.S. Based Cruise Ship Carrying Hundreds of Infected Guests

Currently, Australia is under siege by U.S. based cruise ships arriving with passengers and crew members infected with COVID-19. There are around 850 people infected on just four cruise ships visiting Australia: Coral Princess – currently 200 infected passengers; Majestic Princess – 116  infected passengers; Ovation of the Seas –  currently 129 infected passengers and 2 infected crew;  and Quantum of the Seas – currently approximately 400 infected passengers.

Why Residents of Port Communities Should Worry About COVID-19 Cruise Ships

The Conversation in Australia explained today why port communities should worry about COVID-19 being transmitted to residents ashore from visiting cruise ships:

First, cruise ships can have epidemics of a variety of infectious diseases, not just COVID-19, facilitated by large numbers of people in close proximity, especially during indoor social activities. SARS-CoV-2 is spread mainly by inhaling contaminated air, so indoor activities may pose a risk if ventilation is poor.

Secondly, cruises typically last at least a week, which covers the incubation period for infections such as influenza and COVID. So all it takes is for one infected person to be on the ship to set off an epidemic.

Thirdly, crew members stay on ships much longer than passengers, and can continue to infect new passengers, perpetuating a cycle of outbreaks.

Fourthly, almost half of infections are transmitted asymptomatically. So, without testing everyone on board (before they board and during outbreaks), infectious people can board a ship without being aware they are infected and cause an epidemic. Infected staff can also infect new passengers, and passengers can infect communities they visit on land.

Port Communities Are Held Hostage to the Cruise Lines’ Lack of Transparency

As usual, Carnival executives continue to refuse to admit how many of its guests or ship employees are infected with the virus.

Local port authorities in some jurisdictions will sometimes disclose the actual number of people infected on visiting cruise ships. But it’s clear that Carnival-owned brands like Princess Cruises are under orders from Carnival Corporation’s Miami-based PR team to refuse to reveal such basic public information.

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Coral Princess Image Credit: Roy Luck – Creative Commons 2.0 commons/ wikimedia.