Two thousand passengers on P&O Cruises Australia's Pacific Dawn have still not been able to visit any of the ports scheduled on the vessel's 10-day sailing, due to an outbreak of H1N1 swine flu on the ship's prior cruise.
P&O said on Thursday that the ship would visit Brisbane on Saturday and return to Sydney on Sunday, three days early. It was not clear if Brisbane would allow the passengers to debark.
Jeannette Young, chief health officer of Australia’s Queensland state (where Brisbane is located), stated that all passengers would be screened before disembarking and any passengers with symptoms would be "swabbed and provided with masks and a course of Tamiflu (an antiviral drug used to treat influenza)."
Three crew members on the prior cruise tested positive for swine flu, and the number of passengers and crew from the prior cruise confirmed to have the virus grew to 24, prompting health authorities to keep the ship at sea since it left Sydney on May 25.
The ship was supposed to visit the northeastern Australia ports of Whitsundays, Port Douglas, and Cairns.
Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, showed frustration with the unrelenting media coverage and "inaccurate reporting." Several outlets took to calling the Pacific Dawn the "swine flu ship."
Sherry addressed the situation in the YouTube video below.
"It is important that we set the record straight in the interests of passengers as well as their friends and family," she said.
Sherry said that no current passengers on the Pacific Dawn had tested positive for swine flu, and that the ship had not been quarantined.