Five Qantas crew have virus after cruise passenger flight
Five Qantas crew members who were on a long haul flight carrying passengers from the Ruby Princess cruise ship back to the US have tested positive for coronavirus.
But despite them spending 15 hours on the jet with passengers from the ill-fated cruise liner, NSW Health has not counted them in its tally of just 12 people infected from contact with them.
"That's just ridiculous," Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association federal secretary Steve Purvinas said.
"You can put two and two together and see how they got it."
One of the crew members told The Daily Telegraph the crew of the QF7 flight on March 22 had no idea who was on the plane to Dallas.
"We did not realise they were cruise passengers until they started coughing but by then the door was closed and it was too late," the crew member said.
The 15-hour Sydney to Dallas flight is one of the longest in the world. The NSW based crew was rested in Texas and then operated the QF8 flight back to Sydney on March 26 before showing symptoms of COVID-19.
A NSW Health spokesman confirmed 377 passengers from the Ruby Princess had tested positive for coronavirus, including six people who have died. So far, 12 people in the community have been confirmed as having contracted the virus from contact with the passengers who were let off in the dead of night with no health checks. But the Qantas crew members are not listed among those official contacts.
NSW Health initially refused to answer questions about the Qantas crew, citing the ongoing NSW police investigation in the ship fiasco.
But officials backflipped yesterday and confirmed the crew member infection was being investigated as part of the Ruby Princess incident.
Yesterday, the state's chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant admitted she could not guarantee infected passengers had not passed on the virus to more people than the 12 officially confirmed cases.
"I can't put my hand on my heart today and say that there is no broader transmission," Dr Chant said.
Australia's chief health officer Brendan Murphy said: "It's too early to say how many will have been transmitted. But NSW Health, I believe what they're saying.
"They wouldn't tell me something that's not true."
The Ruby Princess has now docked at Port Kembla while the police investigation is ongoing. There will be regular health checks of the crew and the ship will undergo a deep clean before it leaves Australian waters at the completion of the investigation.
Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram said: "We are dealing with a very complicated situation with the Ruby Princess, with around 200 of those over 1000 crew who've got mild flu-like symptoms."
Mr Outram said Aspen Medical was tasked to assess and advise the ABF on how to manage the ship so it can leave as soon as possible.
"We're trying to get the Ruby Princess into a situation where it and its crew can safely depart Australian waters, and they've given us advice in relation to that," he said.
Originally published as Five Qantas crew with virus after flight with cruise passengers