Interstate coronavirus cases from Ruby Princess jump as more than 100 outside NSW test positive

Naaman Zhou
Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

The number of interstate coronavirus cases from the Ruby Princess cruise ship has risen sharply after more than 100 Australians outside of New South Wales tested positive for the disease.

So far, 171 people in NSW and at least 122 interstate have been diagnosed with Covid-19 after they left the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which was allowed to dock twice in Sydney’s Circular Quay.

Queensland Health confirmed on Friday that 32 people in the state had tested positive from the ship across its two trips – up from only nine on Tuesday.

In South Australia there are now 53 cases linked to the Ruby Princess, and 21 cases in the Australian Capital Territory.

On 19 March 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark without checks from NSW Health, with many boarding flights interstate. Another boatload of passengers did the same on 8 March.

Related: Finger-pointing over the Ruby Princess debacle won't help solve coronavirus crisis

On Tuesday NSW Health revealed there were 11 cases in Western Australia, nine in Queensland, three in Tasmania, two in the Northern Territory and one in the ACT linked to the ship.

But on Friday the NSW department said it would stop “providing any more national or interstate figures, just our NSW figures”, despite the rise in interstate cases.

In South Australia cases from the Ruby Princess are the single biggest cluster of coronavirus cases, making up a fifth of the state’s total.

Three Queenslanders who were on board the ship told Guardian Australia they were expecting to be tested but had been texted while on the ship to “disembark” and board a bus to Sydney airport.

The daughter of one of the passengers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said her mother and two friends had all tested positive for Covid-19 since leaving Sydney.

“We all assumed they would have to stay on the ship until cleared,” she said. “My mum and friends thought this would be the case also.

“Next thing we know, we all receive a text saying that all passengers had to disembark and were put on a bus to Sydney airport with nothing more than a leaflet instructing them to self-isolate upon arriving home.

“My father, who does not leave home due to his health, made the choice and effort to pick Mum up from the airport [in Queensland] as he didn’t want to risk anyone else’s health.”

The passenger’s daughter said her father had also contracted Covid-19.

“This should never have happened,” she said. “How many people have these passengers encountered on their return home to isolate? Our medical staff in this country are working tirelessly and risking their health [and] this situation was avoidable.”

On Saturday the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, said it had been a mistake to allow the 2,700 passengers to disembark on 19 March without testing.

On Thursday it emerged that the NSW Port Authority had been warned as early as January by the Maritime Union of Australia of “a gaping hole” in biosecurity networks when it came to coronavirus.

A Queensland Health spokesman said: “All other passengers have been given clear direction from Queensland Health to quarantine themselves for 14 days and phone ahead before attending their GP or attend a local fever clinic should they develop symptoms.”

Earlier this week a spokesman for Princess Cruises said: “Our onboard medical team was rigorous in its treatment of some guests who reported flu-like symptoms, and these guests were isolated.

“The ship reported these cases to NSW Health, which in turn requested swabs to be provided following the ship’s arrival in Sydney, some of which subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.”

On Tuesday NSW Health said in a public statement: “No cases of Covid-19 had been identified by doctors on board before docking.”