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‘They never mentioned coronavirus’: first sick Ruby Princess passenger

Mr Londero said he started to feel unwell with “a bit of a sore throat that came on gradually” in the days before the ship’s return.

“Then I started to get other symptoms, I started to get muscular and back pain,” he told the Herald from his home in north-western NSW.

The Ruby Princess docked in Port Kembla on Monday.

The Ruby Princess docked in Port Kembla on Monday.Credit:Nick Moir

He has no idea how he contracted the virus. Having kept an eye on the news, particularly the horrific statistics emerging daily from Italy, Mr Londero, his wife and their friends made the decision to self isolate on board.

“I started to feel unwell and started to feel there was something to be very concerned about.”

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Three days before it was due to dock in Sydney, the ship’s captain notified all passengers that anyone feeling unwell was to report to the ship’s hospital staffed by four nurses and one doctor, South African national Dr Ilse von Watzdorf.

Dr von Watzdorf has worked for Princess Cruises for five and a half years, according to her LinkedIn profile.

“When I came to the ship’s hospital, they thought I was having a heart attack – because of the virus causing stress on my heart,” he said, describing the level of care as excellent. “They never mentioned coronavirus, I thought it was something else.”

Mr Londero says he remained in isolation in the ship’s hospital with one other woman, who has since died, until he was taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

After being admitted, the part-time mining worker was transferred to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

“When they said I was positive, it was a bit of a relief because I knew what was wrong with me,” he said.

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After his stay at Royal Prince Alfred, Mr Londero was released to a “virtual hospital” in a Sydney motel with his wife, who also contracted the disease but did not suffer such severe symptoms.

As the debate over who was responsible for letting the ship’s passengers off into the community rages, Mr Londero said he too wants answers.

“I would like to know how I got sick so quick. All I know is I got very ill very quickly and I don’t know how I got it,” he said, adding the medical workers both on board and in the hospital were “angels” who he cannot thank enough.

He has yet to be contacted by police, he said.

“Whatever you do, stay home, stay clean and isolate yourself because this is a terrible thing.

“The second week in I got very sick – the first was just aches and pains and a temperature. The second week it affected my breathing.”

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