200 hit by gastro on Sea Princess cruise ship docking in Brisbane
Gastro has hit about 200 passengers on board a cruise ship docking in Brisbane on Thursday morning.
The Sea Princess was returning from a two-week trip to New Zealand, which saw as much as seven per cent of those on board struck down with norovirus.
Efforts were made to contain the outbreak, with further cleaning expected once passengers departed the 260-metre cruise ship at Hamilton’s Portside Wharf.
A Princess Cruises spokesman said the cleaning measures would delay the ship’s departure with a fresh crew of passengers on the same route later on Thursday.
The cruise saw an “elevated number” of guests suffering norovirus-induced gastro, he said.
“Proactive steps taken on board during the cruise reduced the number of new cases being reported and guests were also thanked for adhering to sound health guidelines including regular hand washing and use of hand sanitiser dispensers,” he said.
Queensland Health confirmed norovirus, one of a group of bugs that can cause gastroenteritis, was behind the outbreak.
It can be spread by contaminated food or drink, touching contaminated surfaces, inhaling airborne particles and direct contact with someone who is infected.
Symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and some stomach cramping.
“Around 200 people were believed to have been infected with the virus,” a Metro North Hospital and Health Service spokeswoman said, in a statement.
“Appropriate sanitation procedures and outbreak control measures have been implemented and the vessel is expected to undergo further comprehensive cleaning while in Brisbane.”
The ship has completed a 14-day, seven-stop tour of New Zealand, taking in Fiordland National Park, Dunedin and Akaroa.
According to Princess Cruises, the vessel, which takes a crew of about 900, carried 2130 guests on the trip.
The ship touts the “most luxurious accommodations at sea” and specialty restaurants serving dishes made with the freshest ingredients.
Prices range from $2000 right up to $6600 depending on the accommodation.
The Sun Princess, another cruise liner in the Princess stable, suffered several gastro outbreaks last year.
Shine Lawyers transport lawyer David Adams said sick passengers could be entitled to compensation, adding the illness could have “catastrophic” effects.
“We believe that passengers who have been harmed should be entitled to a full refund as well as financial support for the care and treatment of their injuries,” he said.
“If passengers, moving forward, will lose wages or will incur any unexpected costs as a result of the outbreak, they shouldn’t be forced to wear these and should be reimbursed by the operator.”