The Celebrity Eclipse docked in Sydney, Australia with, depending upon which news outlet you read, anywhere from 100 to over 1,500 people infected with COVID-19.

The Daily Mail reports that “far more than 1,500 people” on the cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises were positive for COVID-19.

The Australian newspaper reports that around 300 people on the ship, which just completed a cruise to New Zealand, were infected.  

9News reports that around 100 tested positive on the cruise  ship, after mentioning that the NSW government classified the ship as a “tier two” (30-99 positive cases per 1,000 people) and further clarifying that 4% of the ship was positive for coronavirus (the Celebrity Eclipse has around 2,850 passengers and approximately 1,271 crew members).

The newspapers also quoted different passenger capacities for the Celebrity ship ranging from 2,850 to 3,420.

It does not appear that any of the Australian newspapers are including the number of infected ship employees in their estimates.

Cruise lines refuse to voluntarily disclose the total number of infected people (guests and crew members) who become infected on their cruise ships. 9News says that says that according to Celebrity Cruises, about 4 per cent of people on the cruise ship are positive with COVID-19. Celebrity chose not to disclose disclose the number of guests and crew on the ship, the total number of people infected on the ship or whether the percentage includes both guests and crew members.

There have been a consistently large number of COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships calling on Australian ports.

Majestic Princess – 800 infected guests (Sydney)

Quantum of the Seas – 400 infected guests (heading toward Queensland);

Queen Elizabeth – Between 310 and 465 guests and crew (10 to 15 percent of nearly 2,100 passengers and around 1,000 crew members) (blocked by Bali);

Coral Princess – 290 infected guests and crew (Fremantle);

Grand Princess – 200 infected guests (Melbourne);

Ovation of the Seas – 129 infected guests and 2 crew member (New Zealand)

Majestic Princess – 116 infected guests (Tahiti).

Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess, which docked in Sydney on Thursday, has also been classed as a “tier 2” cruise ship. Princess will not disclose the number of guests or crew infected. But “tier 2” means that the ship has between around 120 and approximately 400 infected guests and crew given its capacity of 3,560 passengers and 1,346 crew members. As noted above, Majestic Princess had as many as 800 infected guests a month ago.

According to the Daily Mail, “40,194 cases were confirmed in New South Wales (this week) and 48 people died in the past seven days (in the territory). The ‘fourth-wave’ of Covid infections currently underway is a mix of several variants, including BA4 and BA5, BQ1.1, XBB and BA 2.75.”

The newspaper quotes Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett who bizarrely says “the fact that so many cases were identified is a good thing, comparatively speaking. . . because many thousands more people who have the virus but don’t know it would be in Sydney’s workplaces, entertainment venues, shops and schools right now. These are 1500 cases that we know about, they will be advised to play it safe wear masks and isolate. They are not adding a lot to the infection in community because infection rates are already up.”

Does this epidemiologist really think that unloading 1,500 infected tourists will not cause an increase in disease into the local community leading to the involvement of costly shoreside medical providers, hospitalization, an occasional death and the effects of long COVID?

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Image Credit: Celebrity Eclipse (top) – Pjotr Mahhonin – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons  /wikimedia.