Minister says four people aboard a cruise ship that berthed in Sydney test positive

Four people aboard a cruise ship that berthed in Sydney on Thursday morning have tested positive for coronavirus.

One confirmed case is a staff member who was allowed to board another cruise with a new group of passengers that is currently at sea between Sydney and Wollongong.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard is urging all 2700 passengers and 1100 crew who were on board the Ruby Princess that arrived at 6am to self-isolate immediately.

Ruby Princess cruise passengers arrived in Australia five days ahead of schedule after the government urged overseas Australians to return home. Credit:Kate Geraghty

Two passengers aged in their 70s are being treated in the dedicated COVID-19 ward at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. A third passenger has also been diagnosed with the disease.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said all passengers have been sent emails and text messages alerting them to the situation and directly them to self-isolate.

"Our big concern, the very big concern, is that those people came off the cruise with no knowledge of COVID actually being on their ship," Mr Hazzard said.

"If they think that it's not necessary to do the 14 days, and if they think that it's okay to be wandering around, the clear message from me as New South Wales Health Minister is, no, it's not.

"Please put yourself into immediate quarantine for 14 days, self-isolate in your home or your normal place of residence, or whenever you may be, and start taking very serious note of your own health," he said.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in NSW jumped by 75 to 382 in the 24 hours since 11am on Thursday – the biggest jump to date

Four other confirmed cases of COVID-19 are close contacts of people who attended a Sydney Church of Christ service at Ryde Civic Centre on March 8, Dr Chant said.

Dr Chant urged the 300 attendees at the service to monitor for symptoms for the next two days, as their chance of having COVID-19 is "slightly increased".

"I can confirm that we have contacted all of the close contacts of the confirmed cases that attended that service," Dr Chant said.

"But given the fact that, in such a big service of around 300 people, it's hard to absolutely exclude who's contacted who. We are wanting to put the whole group of people that attended that service on notice."

More to come

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