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'It's decimated my family.' The human faces behind the Ruby Princess cruise ship disaster.

Just 15 days after disembarking the Ruby Princess cruise in late March, Bev Williams got a call from her doctor: “Des is dying, you need to come and see him.”

The 79-year-old couldn’t get in a taxi, and she wasn’t allowed to ring anyone to pick her up – so she drove herself.

Her husband Des, 85, died on April 2 from coronavirus, one of more than 600 passengers who tested positive to the virus after boarding the ill-fated ship with no knowledge they were hopping on a boat that had hours earlier allowed sick passengers to disembark.

WATCH: The trailer for 7News Investigates: The Ruby Princess. Post continues after video.

Video via 7News

The March 8 cruise to New Zealand was Des and Bev Williams’ 11th cruise together.

They’d been married 23 years, and had a lovely holiday.

They dined in the same restaurant every night, and had the same waiter most evenings as well – until one day he wasn’t there, and the couple were simply told he was “sick.”

A week after they got back home to Queensland, Des came down with what he thought was a cold.

Des and Bev Williams
Des and Bev Williams. Image: Seven News.
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"Hhad a high temperature and started to have difficulty breathing as well so they were like, 'well, we need to do something.' So they went to the local [COVID-19] testing station in Toowoomba," Des’ stepson Craig Blackburn told 7News Investigates: The Ruby Princess.

On March 8, Des and Bev were among 2,700 passengers who boarded the Ruby Princess cruise. But as 7News reports, at least 158 of the passengers who had just disembarked had reported symptoms of coronavirus - a piece of information that was kept from port authorities in Sydney.

Despite the warning signs, and despite the fact the cruise's sister ship the Diamond Princess had already been at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak off the coast of Japan, the guests boarded none the wiser.

On March 14, New Zealand locked down its borders and the ship was forced to return back to Australia. By this point, 13 people were already unwell.

The next day, Australia banned cruise ships, but on March 19 the Ruby Princess docked in Sydney (despite the ban), releasing all of its passengers to their respective homes with little to no health checks.

RUBY CRUISE
11 people from the Ruby Princess Cruise have now died from coronavirus. Image: Getty.
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The bungled disaster is the result of multiple mistakes by multiple authorities - and is responsible for 10 per cent of all coronavirus cases in Australia.

After leaving the ship, Des and Bev went home to Toowoomba, Queensland.

After presenting at the COVID-19 clinic, Des was found positive for the virus and put in a specialised ward straightaway. Bev was told to go home and isolate for 14 days.

"She was told, 'You will have to stay at home, you can't come in to see him'," Craig told 7News.

"[She was] feeling helpless. Her husband basically got the disease and she can't go and see him so I basically had to go and take up his phone and his iPad for him so she could at least have some communication with him," he said.

Days later, Des' oxygen levels dropped.

"Then just out of the blue that night the doctor said, 'Des is dying'," recalled Craig. "Des is dying, you need to come and see him. So, yes, she can't get in a taxi, I can't pick her up, can't do anything. She had to drive herself. 'Go and see your husband for the last time.'"

Bev said goodbye to her beloved husband at 10pm on the Tuesday night.

Two days later, on Thursday morning, Des Williams died.

Des Williams
Des Williams, 85, died from Covid-19 on April 2. Image: Seven News.
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Craig says, if it turns out there were decisions made by various departments that put his parents in unnecessary danger, those decisions decimated his family.

"I have a six-year-old and a four-year-old. They used to love seeing dad. Now their grandfather is taken away. My step-father is taken away as well. We got on really well and my mother loved him. The whole bloody thing has just decimated the family. As we talk now... Just disaster," Craig told 7News.

To add to the family's pain, Bev has also now tested positive to COVID-19.

"It is a whole nightmare. Whole nightmare. She is showing no symptoms but we just have to wait and see if the bloody death sentence is coming. So we are all just stressed like anything," Craig explained.

Craig said his mum is spending her days preparing herself for the end.

"And we can't go over there," he said.

"We can go over and see her from a distance but we can't hug her, we can't do anything, we can't go inside and help her. She is just lonely. Hopefully not dying."

This is the reality for just one family. But there are many more facing their own hardships and emotional turmoil because of what they thought was a safe decision to board the Ruby Princess cruise for a holiday to New Zealand. Then, of course, there's the countless others who have been infected by the people who left the vessel and went on with their lives, unwittingly spreading the virus.

It was a ship, and a trip, that shouldn't have even been allowed to set sail, and which is currently at the centre of a criminal investigation.

So far, state and federal government bodies and the cruise liner have pinballed the blame, with no one taking responsibility for the handling of the disaster.

Feature image: Seven.

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.
To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.