Queensland authorities are managing a COVID-19 outbreak on a cruise ship as the state’s third virus 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 cruise.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says COVID-19 protocols were in place on the ship before the outbreak.
She says some passengers are isolating at home or in other accommodation, while authorities are helping the company manage infected staff on board.
“This was always going to happen just like the rest of community,” Ms D’Ath told reporters on Monday.
“The virus is everywhere and there’s no escaping that, but I do want to acknowledge that the public health units along with the cruise line, are doing all the right things and following the protocols in place.”
Comment has been sought from Princess Cruises.
Queensland recorded another 4804 COVID-19 cases on Monday, taking the number of active cases to 40,489.
No one has died with the virus but there are 782 people in hospital and 10 in intensive care.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there were no plans to mandate face masks, saying it was up to individuals whether to wear one or not.
“It’s people’s personal responsibility,” she told reporters.
“So if you’re in a crowded area, it is your choice to put on that mask.”
She urged people over the age of 65 to wear masks though, and ensure they have had a booster, as those “ending up in hospital and tragically, the people are losing their lives, are people over 65”.
With children returning to class after school holidays on Monday, the health minister called on parents to keep their kids home if they were sick.
Meanwhile, Ms D’Ath said that she was unsure whether the authorities were recording reinfection rates as the most of the COVID-19 cases emerged after rapid antigen tests.
She said they haven’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.”