Passengers on the international Maasdamcruise ship arrived in Sydney Harbour Sunday morning and were checked for coronavirus, a NSW Health spokesperson has revealed.

Health experts assessed the passengers on the Maasdam which came from Auckland, New Zealand, and allowed them to dock without incident.

“No-one had symptoms suggestive of novel coronavirus or recent travel from China, and

none required novel coronavirus testing,” NSW Health said in a statement.

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The assessments was carried out by the NSW Chief Human Biosecurity Officer, the NSW Health Chief Health Officer and public health physicians.

All cruise ships coming into Sydney will not be allowed to dock until they have undergone the same health assessment, NSW Health confirmed.

NSW Health said it was “taking a precautionary approach to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), assisting the Australian Government in assessing passengers who arrive at Sydney Airport who have been in China in the previous 14 days”.

“As a safeguard, any unwell passengers will be assessed by health teams here.”

The NSW Health spokesperson said not to be alarmed at the number of sick people on any given cruise ship.

“As cruise ships have large numbers of passengers (often thousands), many of whom are older and have chronic medical conditions, passengers often require medical management while on the cruise or on disembarkation, unrelated to infectious diseases.

“People with fever and respiratory symptoms may be tested for respiratory infections, including novel coronavirus.”

The testing process is similar to that being done for passengers arriving at Sydney Airport, NSW Health added.

Since February 2, 17,093 people have been assessed at Sydney International Airport. A total of 64 were sent for testing.

This includes testing conducted yesterday where 263 arrivals from mainland China

were assessed at Sydney International Airport. None was sent for testing.


An Australian infectious disease expert is in Japan to help authorities cope with concerns for passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama due to coronavirus.

The expert joins an international team to gather information about the passengers, including the 200 Australians aboard.

The US is sending an aircraft to Japan to bring back US passengers on the Diamond Princess.

The Australian Embassy in Tokyo emailed citizens aboard the cruise ship to say the federal government is also examining options to assist Australians.

The federal government last week extended the two-week travel ban from mainland China for another seven days to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry states it’s “absolutely paramount” to keep citizens safe from the virus, but it is a “savage blow” to the nation’s tourism.

“Tourism and trade would greatly benefit from even a partial lifting of the ban from provinces in China that present a much lower risk to Australians,” Australian Chamber Tourism Executive chair John Hart wrote.

The Maritime Union of Australia is concerned its members are at risk by the arrival of container vessels from mainland China, which it says in some cases are docking in breach of the travel ban.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese raised the issue with the government and the chief medical officer, and has been assured they are aware of the situation.

No quarantined Australians at Christmas Island and Darwin have tested positive for the virus and the first group of evacuees are due to return home on Monday.

Of the 15 coronavirus cases in Australia, six have been cleared and the remaining nine are all stable.

In China, the total number of people infected by the virus rose to more than 66,000 on Saturday, with the number of deaths passing 1500.