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Pacific Dawn's passengers cleared to disembark

May 31, 2009

Passengers aboard the P&O cruise ship Pacific Dawn have disembarked in Brisbane after being screened for swine flu.

Of the ship's 2,000 passengers, only 83 were allowed to leave the ship after it berthed in Hamilton, but they will have to spend seven days in home quarantine.

Queensland passengers were asked by health authorities to leave the ship.

Not everyone took up the offer and 29 Queenslanders will continue the cruise to Sydney.

Those who did leave had to undergo lengthy health checks by a team of nurses and medical staff.

Carnival Cruises chief executive Ann Sherry, who owns P&O, met every passenger coming off the ship and handed them a cheque for 75 per cent of the cost of their cruise.

"All of our feedback from the ship has been very positive," she said.

Most passengers were happy.

"We've all had a good time," one passenger said.

"Everyone's happy with the reimbursement."

Outbreak contained

More samples from sick passengers were taken from the ship this morning for testing.

But Australia's chief medical officer says the swine flu outbreak on board the cruise ship appears to have been contained.

Doctor Jim Bishop says no new cases have been found among passengers or crew.

Dr Bishop says he is pleased at the success of virus containment measures on board.

"Only those original cases that were identified some days ago in crew members are the only cases we're aware of on that ship," he said.

"That means the passengers are testing well at the moment. I think that's a very good result for that particular ship."

Tourism disrupted

Meanwhile Queensland's peak tourism body says panic over swine flu has the potential to cause major damage to the industry.

Daniel Gschwind from the Queensland Tourism Industry Council says Japanese visitor numbers are down and flights have been cut to the country as the number of swine flu cases escalates.

He says it is causing significant uncertainty and has the potential to severely disrupt both international and domestic tourism.

He says the cruise ship industry has been hard hit by the latest incident on the Pacific Dawn.

"The fact that the focus has gone onto this cruise ship and onto cruise ships generally that is a concern," he said.

"I think to be fair, the way P&O and cruise companies have handled this is very responsible.

"They've followed all the instructions they were given by the Government and they've taken every precaution and that in itself should give travellers in itself some confidence."

Pacific Dawn's passengers cleared to disembark
Image via ABC: Jonathon Hall


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