The troubled Ruby Princess cruise ship is on track to follow orders that it should leave Australian waters on Thursday, but unions say they remain concerned for some of the crew on board.
The NSW Police-led operation to disembark some of the crew to allow them to fly home continued on Wednesday, alongside a NSW Health operation to get the 21 workers who remain sick with COVID-19 off the ship.
Unions have been pushing hard for the sick crew to come off the ship in recent days, saying it should not be forced to leave Australian waters until they have been given the proper medical care.
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As ambulances arrived around midday, the national coordinator for the international transport workers federation in Australia Dean Summers reiterated the importance of getting the crew off the ship.
"Here we are the day before the ship had been ordered to go to sea," he said.
"We know from the health department that there are 21 active and contagious cases of COVID-19 on board the ship, and we cannot let this ship sail with any cases."
At the morning's media conference, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller confirmed the ship was on track to leave on Thursday.
In the evening, police confirmed a further 115 people had left the ship, after 57 disembarked on Tuesday.
"The Commissioner of Border Force has written to Carnival and directed that the Ruby Princess leaves Australian waters from this Thursday, so from a NSW Police perspective, we are still working to that date," Mr Fuller said.
"There are a number of other potential crew members who may be repatriated, we are waiting for information from either Carnival or other consulates in terms of absolutely fixed travel arrangements for those individuals."
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said he was pleased to see "common sense prevail" regarding the 21 sick crew.
"If by the end of today we have every single COVID positive crew member off that ship, then that is a major step forward," he said on Wednesday.
"It's good to see that sanity is prevailing, because the attitude of the police commissioner yesterday was frankly disturbing, that a ship could sail with COVID positive crew on board," he said.
Mr Rorris also praised the work of medical specialists and public health officials, whose "transparency and cooperation has been of a gold standard" during the mission to disembark crew.
He said the unions remained concerned that not all crew who wanted to leave the ship before it set sail were being allowed to disembark.
"Anyone left on that ship should be left there voluntarily, not by Border Force directive," he said.
Police said more crew were expected to disembark on Thursday before the ship leaves.
Also on Wednesday, the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess began, with the ship's doctor Ilse Von Watzdorf giving evidence.
During her appearance via video link, which was interrupted repeatedly by technical issues, she said she was surprised passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney on March 19 while test results for a number of passengers were pending.
Dr Von Watzdorf said she would have waited to receive test results, given the number of passengers with symptoms consistent with illnesses including COVID-19.
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