Police are urging foreign cruise ships floating off NSW to immediately go home rather than risk flooding the state’s hospitals with coronavirus patients.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says there are nine cruise ships either docked in the state or waiting off the coast.
Six of these ships are not registered to NSW addresses.
“There are thousands of people, potentially, in cruise ships off our coasts that aren’t members of our state and if we take them in, then that could well flood our system unnecessarily,” Mr Fuller told reporters on Tuesday.
“All the hard work we’ve done could be over.
“We will continue to allow them to have fuel and food … but it is time to go to your port of origin.”
As of Monday night, there were 285 coronavirus infections in NSW linked to cruise ships, including 189 from the Ruby Princess.
The Ruby Princess has become a major source of COVID-19 spread in Australia after infected passengers were allowed to disembark without adequate checks.
Three Ruby Princess crew with severe coronavirus symptoms were taken to hospital on Sunday night and another three crew were ferried to hospital on Monday.
Six people from the Radiance of the Seas near Port Kembla were transferred to shore on Monday afternoon.
Mr Fuller says NSW will continue to let people disembark cruise ships on humanitarian grounds, such as two pregnant women who have asked to come ashore.
“We’ve had requests for two ladies to leave two different ships who were pregnant, which I thought was absolutely appropriate,” he said.
“We are receiving people sensibly back into NSW. They get the required healthcare then go into mandatory isolation.”
Following the Ruby Princess fiasco, NSW has banned all cruise ship passengers from disembarking until new protocols are in place.
Mr Fuller has said no cruise passenger will enter NSW unless they have his personal approval.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in NSW reached 2032 on Tuesday – an increase of 114 on the previous day.