NSW Labor has called for Health Minister Brad Hazzard to stand down over the Berejiklian Government’s catastrophic failure to manage the COVID-19 crisis from the Ruby Princess cruise ship. Describing it as “one of the greatest public health failures NSW has seen”, Labor Leader Jodi McKay said it was time to end the Ruby Princess cover-up. The catastrophic failure since 2,700 people were allowed to disembark the Ruby Princess in Sydney without testing or quarantine has been directly responsible for seven deaths and more than 600 COVID-19 infections, including over 350 in NSW alone. Now leaked emails have revealed that NSW Health allowed passengers to disembark, despite warnings from the ship’s senior doctor of respiratory illnesses on board. “It’s time to end this 16-day cover-up, which has been distressing for all those passengers and family involved,” Ms McKay said. “The Health Minister must stand down. No more excuses, no more cover-ups. “We do not make this call lightly. The buck stops with the Health Minister and the Health Minister must resign.” Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said it was the first time in his career he had demanded a minister step down. “At a time when our state is experiencing the biggest health crisis it has ever been through, the community is looking to leaders it can trust,” Mr Park said. “But they haven’t got that from the Premier and the Health Minister. The Health Minister and the Premier have lied and covered up the incident involving the Ruby Princess.” Mr Park said it was disgraceful it had taken two weeks for the truth to come out. “This is the Health Minister’s problem. This is his fault. This is his responsibility.” Ms McKay said that after more than two weeks of calling for the Premier and the Minister to explain, there was now no option but for him to go. “We have called for an apology. We have urged the government to take responsibility. We have demanded an independent inquiry with the powers of a royal commission,” she said. “Last week the Premier tried to blame Border Force. This week, she tried to blame the ship’s captain. These emails show that is simply not the truth. “Lives have been lost. The trust of the community has been undermined. The Premier must apologise and replace the Minister who oversaw this.” Ms McKay said she wanted to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of NSW Health personnel during this crisis. ABC reports There have been 342 confirmed cases from passengers in NSW alone, with an additional 11 confirmed cases of community transmission.
Nine crew members have also tested positive.
Seven people have died, and the total national number of cases linked to the ship is at more than 600.