A cruise ship due to dock in Sydney will arrive carrying scores of people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Passengers will have to record a negative result on a rapid antigen test before disembarking, while crew will have to remain on board.
The outbreak aboard the Coral Princess has mostly infected crew, with 114 of them in isolation on Tuesday.
Four passengers were isolating after positive results, and 24 earlier disembarked in Brisbane, Queensland’s chief health officer John Gerrard said.
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NSW Health said passengers who tested positive on board likely took the virus on board with them rather than becoming infected at sea.
The ship docked in Eden on the south coast on Tuesday, where about 800 passengers disembarked after returning negative tests.
Eden-Monaro MP and Regional Development Minister Kristy McBain said locals were happy to see the ship dock after bushfires and the pandemic impacted the region.
“When you’ve got towns that rely on tourism it’s been an incredibly difficult couple of years,” Ms McBain told Sydney radio 2GB on Tuesday.
“Hopefully this will be the first of many cruise ships to dock this season … There’s been significant investment into the Port of Eden so that cruise ships could dock in town,” she said.
After departing Eden, the Coral Princess is due to berth at Circular Quay about 6.30am on Wednesday, where it will remain for a day before returning to its home port of Brisbane.
A Princess Cruises spokesman on Tuesday said the crew who had tested positive in a recent full-screening were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.
At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, another Princess cruise liner – the Ruby Princess – was briefly linked to one in eight NSW coronavirus cases.
The latest cruise ship outbreak comes as concern grows about the growing spread of Omicron sub-variants that could reinfect people who have already had the virus.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee recently advised shortening the period people are considered immune to the virus to four weeks, requiring people experiencing symptoms more than 28 days after they left isolation to get tested again.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has criticised the end of a concessional access program for rapid antigen tests and called for the government to extend it beyond July.
“Case numbers and hospitalisations are still rising every single day,” PSA president Fei Sim said.
“Governments should be encouraging more testing, not less,” she said.
Australia recorded 41,336 cases and 58 deaths on Tuesday.