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Published on : Thursday, February 16, 2017
PASSENGERS preparing to sail on the next Sun Princess cruise have been issued a health warning following an outbreak of severe gastro onboard. A letter issued to Princess cruise guests checking in for the next trip due to depart from Brisbane to Vanuatu advises passengers about the recent outbreak.
“We have launched a comprehensive disinfection programme developed in coordination with several international public health authorities. As an additional precaution we have arranged for the ship to undergo a prolonged disinfection on Brisbane on Thursday February 16,” the letter added..
The letter includes instructions on how to avoid the spread of the virus through proper hand washing and other hygiene procedures.
Margaret Walters, a passenger due to board tonight, said she was “a little worried” about the recent cases of the virus on the same ship.
“We’re very prepared with hand sanitiser, air sprays and medication from a doctor designed to protect you from stomach illnesses,” she said.
Ms Walters said she had been on several cruises in the past without incident.
Queensland Health has no jurisdiction to shut down a cruise ship docked in Brisbane, after 176 people suffered a high-contagious form of gastro.
Queensland Health has confirmed about 140 people became sick with the virus during the Sun Princess cruise to New Zealand.
Ken Fox was a passenger on the Sun Princess and said the quick turn around between cruise departures “wasn’t safe”.
“It’s time, I think it’s time Queensland Health got on board, closed the ship down and cleaned it up because it was rampant before we got on,” he said.
Metro North Public Health Unit physician James Smith said 176 people on board had become sick, including three crew members.
Dr Smith said testing had confirmed norovirus, a highly-contagious form of gastro, was to blame.
Dr Smith said norovirus was a “hardy” virus that could survive on hard surfaces such as taps, doorknobs and handrails, for over a month.
“It’s very, very hard to get rid of,” he said.
“You need to have extensive cleaning processes to get rid of any environmental contamination and that’s what the cruise ship operators have been undertaking.”
He said two health and environment officers from the Department were assisting with the clean up.
In a statement released this morning, Carnival Australia said most passengers were unaffected by illness.
“On any given day during the cruise 12 to 15 of the 2000 guests were in self isolation while symptoms ran their course before they returned to their usual cruise activities,” the statement said.
“At no stage during the cruise was there a large number of guests ill at any one time.
“Embarkation of guests has been delayed today to enable deep cleansing of the ship and the terminal.
“Additional deep cleansing was also conducted on the previous cruise in Port Chalmers and Auckland.
“Guests have been advised of the changed arrangements for today’s sailing on a 10-night cruise to the South Pacific.”
The Sun Princess docked in Brisbane about 8am today and is due to depart again later this evening.
This morning cleaning staff were seen on the stern of the ship cleaning railings and balustrades on the decks.
Mr Fox said this week’s outbreak “completely ruined” his holiday even though he and his wife did not get sick.
“All our neighbours had it … when we went out on our balcony we could smell vomit and diarrhoea coming through the balcony,” he said.
room, passenger service don’t care, it’s not a good experience,” he said.
Mr Carter said the crew provided his wife with medication at the couple’s own expense but he felt more assistance could have been provided.
“(The staff) listened but they don’t do anything, they didn’t seem to want to do anything about it.”
Not sick himself, Mr Carter was able to disembark the Sun Princess in Brisbane early this morning, however his wife has remained on board for several hours.
“She won’t get off until every other passenger is off, and there’s no alert broadcast to all the passengers — so only those affected would know about that.”
Mr Carter said there had been no communication about compensation from the cruise ship company.
“I don’t know if I’d go on the cruise again,” he said.
Another passenger said he contracted Norovirus late on Sunday and was placed into immediate quarantine.
“I had to stay in my room until I have 24 hours symptom free,” he said.
The man said he was given medication and was able to leave his room on Tuesday after he had recovered.
“I actually thought the staff did as much as they could.
“There was hand sanitiser every time you came on and off the ship, and when you went into a food area.
“They took all the books out of the library, and the darts and pool table equipment so no one could touch them and pass on the virus,” he said.
It is not yet known how many people are suffering from Norovirus on The Sun Princess, which was returning from Auckland, New Zealand.
The reported outbreak comes less than two weeks since the dozens of people contracted the same virus when the ship was on the way back from PNG.