A cruise ship passenger now in quarantine in a Melbourne hotel has slammed the “appalling” conditions and says she feels let down by the Australian government.
Speaking to the Today show hosts Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon, Jan Richards recalled being trapped on the Greg Mortimer Antarctic cruise ship, which spent a fortnight off the coast of South America with more than half of the people on board testing positive for COVID-19.
Richards returned to Australia yesterday on board a repatriation flight, and one day into her mandatory two-week hotel quarantine, she told Stefanovic and Langdon while she was “extremely happy to be home”, she felt let down by Australian authorities.
“It’s bittersweet really, because we were stuck in a country [Uruguay] where the people were kind and compassionate and we couldn’t have asked for more help,” she said, explaining that after being allowed off the ship they were waved off by Uruguayans who had lined the streets to wish them well.
“Of course it was a long arduous trip to come home. I personally, and I’m not speaking for everybody, I’m only speaking for myself, I feel really let down by our government. I didn’t get the same care and compassion I believe that I received when we were in Uruguay.
“We’re now stuck in this hotel. I have no real idea of what my expectations was other than I thought it would be clean and we would have access to fresh air. Well, the hotel rooms are dirty, and I mean really dirty, and we have no access to fresh air. I’m not expecting five-star. I do expect some level of compassion from our own government. It’s been a nightmare of a journey. We’re at the end of it now, but, we’ve got two weeks here.”
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Stefanovic told her he and Langdon “wholeheartedly sympathise” with her journey, but she had to expect it given the circumstances.
“I know it’s upsetting for you and we appreciate you talking. The Prime Minister and every medical officer is going to say ‘I’m sorry (but) you just have to go through it in order to protect Australian people’. You do get that, don’t you?” he asked.
“One hundred per cent,” Richards replied.
“And not one of us would ever want to pass this on to anybody. But I do think we should be treated like Australians and be given a clean environment. No one is asking for five-star. We expected to do this. We want to do this. We certainly don’t want to pass it on to anybody. But this treatment is appalling.”
Langdon asked how Richards felt about the cruise operator Aurora Expeditions, who insisted the trip – which left Argentina on March 15, four days after the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic – go ahead.