Australian PM admits “mistakes” in cruise ship COVID-19 response

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that there were “humble learnings” from the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which has been linked to hundreds of COVID-19 cases and at least 22 deaths after infected passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney on March 19.

The special commission of inquiry into events surrounding the cruise ship was released on Friday, finding that the New South Wales (NSW) health department committed multiple “serious mistakes” in its handling of the Ruby Princess, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Officials will make mistakes in pandemics that none of us have had to manage before,” Morrison told Nine Entertainment radio in response to the report on Saturday.

“And so I think there’s been some humble learnings out of New South Wales. And I’ve seen New South Wales just go from strength to strength in managing the pandemic. And you are seeing that right now.

“In times like this, there will be errors made. But what you’ve got to ensure is that you learn from every single one of them and you emerge stronger each time.”

His comments came as Australia surpassed 23,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

As of Saturday afternoon there had been 23,035 confirmed cases of the virus in Australia, and the number of new cases in the last 24 hours is 313, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

Of the new cases, Victoria confirmed 303 and NSW confirmed nine.

There were another four deaths in Victoria, taking the national death toll to 379.

“Two of the four new deaths are linked to known outbreaks in aged care facilities. To date, 293 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria,” said a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria on Saturday.

The department also said that there are 2,041 active cases relating to aged care facilities and 1,178 active cases among healthcare workers in the state.