Sick crew evacuated from Ruby Princess cruise ship
Three crew members on the cruise ship at the centre of a NSW coronavirus scandal have been taken to hospital with serious symptoms.
The Ruby Princess has become a major source of the coronavirus across Australia after infected passengers were allowed off the ship.
The ship is currently floating off the coast of Sydney with more than 1100 crew quarantined on board.
NSW authorities on Monday confirmed three crew members had been ferried off the ship on Sunday night and taken to hospital.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant says the trio, who are not Australian, were taken off the boat with the help of police.
"There were three patients where it was assessed that they needed to be unloaded from that cruise ship and receive better care," Dr Chant said on Monday.
"We've always indicated we'd put the lives of the crew members above everything else."
Dr Chant has previously said the ship was well prepared to contain any infections on board.
The infected crew were taken ashore by a police launch after the Ruby Princess anchored near Botany Bay.
A spokesman for the Carnival cruise company said the three crew members had acute respiratory symptoms and thanked authorities for transferring them "on humanitarian grounds".
He said the number of sick crew on board the Ruby Princess is decreasing, with many who have reported feeling ill improving within 24 to 48 hours.
"Crew members have been allocated single occupancy cabins where they are all being isolated when they are not conducting essential work duties," a Carnival Australia spokesman said in a statement on Monday.
"Any crew experiencing flu-like symptoms and their close contacts are isolated in a separate part of the ship."
The number of confirmed NSW cases from the Ruby Princess had jumped to 189 by Monday morning.
A NSW Health spokesman said the state will allow unwell confirmed cases onshore if hospital treatment is needed.
But all crew will remain on board and will be taken care of by the ship's medical staff in the meantime.
There are also 66 confirmed infections linked to the Ovation of the Seas cruise, 26 cases from the Voyager of the Seas, and four cases from the Celebrity Solstice.
Four crew members quarantined on board the Voyager of the Seas have also contracted COVID-19, NSW Health said in a statement on Monday.
Following the Ruby Princess fiasco, NSW has banned all cruise ship passengers from disembarking until new protocols are in place.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says no one will leave the Ruby Princess unless they have his personal approval.
"Anyone who has to come off, comes off at my approval," Mr Fuller said on Monday.
"Three people needed medical attention and we facilitated the removal of those three people."
Two Ruby Princess passengers - a 77-year-old woman in NSW and a 75-year-old woman in Queensland - died after contracting COVID-19.
Australian Border Force chief Michael Outram last week said the decision to allow passengers to disembark without adequate checks was the responsibility of NSW Health and the federal agriculture department.
Originally published as Sick crew evacuated from NSW cruise ship