Ruby Princess inquiry hears passenger diagnosed with flu, days before she died of coronavirus


A passenger on the ill-fated Ruby Princess cruise ship has claimed doctors onboard diagnosed her friend with the flu just days before she tested positive to coronavirus and died in a Sydney hospital.

The Ruby Princess inquiry has heard Josephine Roope repeatedly raised concerns about her friend’s diagnosis with doctors onboard.

She told the inquiry medical staff assured her, her friend Lesley Bacon only had the flu.

Ms Bacon died in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital a few days after disembarking in March.

Counsel Assisting the Inquiry, Richard Beasley, questioned Ms Roope about what doctors had told her while onboard.

“She told you that Mrs Bacon had the flu?” Mr Beasley asked.

“Yes, [the doctor said], ‘It is only the flu, nothing to worry about’,” Ms Roope replied.

“I asked at least three times, at least three times,” she said.

“And each time you were told it was the flu, were you?” Mr Beasley asked.

“Yes that’s right”.

Josephine Roope was never tested for COVID-19 despite close contact with Lesley Bacon.(ABC News)

Ms Roope said NSW Health never tested her for coronavirus despite having had close contact with Ms Bacon.

More than 20 people who travelled on the Ruby Princess subsequently died after contracting coronavirus.

Another passenger told the inquiry Wollongong Hospital refused to test his wife, after she had close contact with a coronavirus case onboard the ship.

William Wright said he and his wife learned a friend they had been travelling with tested positive to coronavirus after disembarking.

But when the couple went to Wollongong Hospital’s COVID-19 clinic, nurses refused to test Ms Wright because she had no symptoms.

“Were they aware that both of you had been in close contact with [the person] who had tested positive?” Mr Beasley asked.

“I mentioned that to them and I was quite annoyed actually because my wife was booked in for breast surgery on the 3rd of April and I thought it would be the right thing to do,” Mr Wright said.

Both Mr Wright and his wife were later diagnosed with coronavirus.

In a statement the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) said, given the Special Commission was underway: “It would not be appropriate for ISLHD to comment on the matter”.



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