Swine Flu Confirmed on Cruise Aboard P&O Australia's Pacific Dawn

May 26, 2009

Over the weekend, Princess Cruises' Dawn Princess was delayed in Sydney by public health officials who tested several passengers for swine flu; all tests turned up negative for the flu.

Now, a second swine flu incident has occurred in Australia -- but this time it's no scare. Thousands of passengers who just disembarked from P&O Australia's Pacific Dawn are now quarantined at home because two cases of swine flu were confirmed onboard.

According to the Daily Telegraph, two days into Pacific Dawn's South Pacific cruise, two children came down with flu-like symptoms and were subsequently isolated and given Tamiflu. More than a hundred passengers and crewmembers also displayed flu symptoms. When the ship arrived in Sydney on May 25, health authorities tested the children and confirmed they had swine flu. More than 2,000 passengers on that cruise have been asked by the health officials to remain in home isolation for a week, reports the Daily Telegraph.

A statement by P&O Australia says that, as a precaution, a small number of crewmembers were asked to disembark as they had demonstrated flu-like symptoms. Pacific Dawn was cleared by health authorities at 10:30 p.m. Monday to set sail on its 10-night Queensland cruise. Remaining crewmembers are all being treated with anti-viral medication, which will also be available free of charge to any passengers feeling ill.

It remains unclear how the passengers contracted swine flu, as neither they nor the ship had visited areas of the world affected by swine flu in the seven days before showing symptoms. P&O is taking extra precautions to prevent the flu, including enhancing screening practices for embarking crew and passengers, rigorously cleaning and sanitizing its ships, and isolating and treating all passengers experiencing flu-like symptoms.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor