Queensland authorities are managing a COVID-19 outbreak on a cruise ship as the state’s third wave nears 41,000 active cases.
The outbreak among the crew and some passengers on the Coral Princess in Brisbane on Sunday led to Princess Cruises offering refunds to those booked on its next 12-day trip.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says protocols were in place on the ship before the outbreak.
She said some passengers are isolating at home or in other accommodation, while authorities are helping the company manage infected staff on board.
“The virus is everywhere and there’s no escaping that,” Ms D’Ath told reporters on Monday.
Princess Cruises said they were “doing everything possible” to ensure the safety of guests and crew.
“We are adhering to comprehensive protocols that were agreed in conjunction with federal and state authorities and we are confident that they are working effectively,” a spokesman told AAP.
Protocols include regular testing of all crew who must be fully vaccinated.
“Should any crew member test positive, they go into isolation on board and have no contact with guests,” Princess Cruises said.
“We recently advised embarking guests that in the most recent full screening of crew some had returned positive tests and that this was being managed effectively in line with our protocols.
“As guests look forward to their cruise holidays, we want them to be confident in knowing that everything possible is being done to ensure they do so in an environment that is as safe as it can be.”
Queensland recorded another 4804 cases on Monday, taking the number of active cases to 40,489.
No one died but there are 782 people in hospital and 10 in intensive care.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there were no plans to mandate face masks.
However, she urged people over 65 to wear masks and ensure they have had a booster because that was the age group that was “ending up in hospital and tragically … losing their lives”.
With children returning to class after school holidays on Monday, Ms D’Ath called on parents to keep their children home if they were sick.
Meanwhile, she said she was unsure whether the authorities were recording reinfection rates as the most of the cases emerged after rapid antigen tests.
Ms D’Ath said they hadn’t asked in the past whether people have had the virus previously, but serious cases were being PCR-tested and recorded for reinfection.
“They are checking that history and collecting that data as well, but the message is clear to everyone: It doesn’t matter if you’ve had COVID, you can absolutely get it again,” the minister said.
“What we do know about BA.4 and 5, the new sub variants of Omicron, is that we are seeing reinfection and that can happen quite quickly, so it can happen within the 12 weeks that we have talked about previously.”