Radio 2GB host Ray Hadley has lashed out at fill-in breakfast Chris Smith saying he is ’embarrassed to be on the same network’ as him over ‘foolish’ comments he made about a cruise ship packed with Covid infected passengers.
On Wednesday morning Smith – who is filling in for Ben Fordham on the popular breakfast show – said Australians don’t need to get worked up about the Coral Princess, which docked in Sydney on Sunday.
Smith said passengers ‘knew what they were walking into’ on the ‘damn cruise ship’ – with more than 100 crew and tourists on board forced to stay on board the liner until they test negative.
Throughout his time on air on Wednesday, Smith said it was nothing like the Ruby Princess debacle – as Australian society is now vaccinated and knows how to handle the virus.
2GB radio host Chris Smith (pictured) said the Coral Princess Covid outbreak is nothing like the Ruby Princess and ‘we shouldn’t panic’
Fellow 2GB host Ray Hadley (pictured) said ‘I’m almost embarrassed to be on the same network’ as Smith’ after Smith’s ‘foolish’ comments on Coral Princess situation
Smith said: ‘We are in a different realm, this is very different. We have defences against the virus now and it’s not like following the Ruby Princess.
‘I would argue we shouldn’t panic… We need to be real about this, put it in context. Let’s not get excited.
‘Put it in perspective: there is only 118 positive cases on the Coral Princess.
‘At the same time there are more than 120 active cases in the NSW community, so you could be in the city today and walk past more than 100 people with the virus.
‘We don’t need to get worked up about this Covid was always going to spread on cruise ships as it does on planes, as it does in workplaces, at the footy and elsewhere.
‘These people knew what they were walking into as well.’
Smith did not back down after Hadley’s attack and said he would take his advice from the medical experts.
‘I stand by what I said,’ the broadcaster told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The cruise company has let those passengers down with sloppy biosecurity measures.
‘But with 4.7 per cent of those on board becoming infected and 100 per cent of them fully vaccinated, this is nothing like the Ruby Princess case.
‘As the Queensland Health Minister said, “Covid is all around us”. I’ll take advice from the epidemiologists thanks.’
The Coral Princess has 118 active Covid infections on board, 114 of which are staff. Passengers will have to test negative before disembarking, with staff to stay on board
Coral Princess passengers seen leaving the cruise ship after disembarking at Circular Quay early on Wednesday morning
Multiple times through his program, Smith returned to talk about the cruise ship and took exception to one listener who said there shouldn’t be any cruises during a pandemic.
‘If you believe that there should be no aeroplanes in the air, if you believe that we shouldn’t be on trains, we should stop all trains,’ Smith said.
‘We have defences against this disease now, it’s not what it was in 2020.’
Following Smith’s program fellow host Ray Hadley took aim at Smith on his show saying he was ‘almost embarrassed’ to be on the same broadcast network as him.
Without naming him – but almost certainly referring to Smith – Hadley said: ‘One of my colleagues this morning was saying nothing to see here, it’s all wonderful, well, he’s a foolish person in my opinion in relation to the virus.
The ship travelled around Queensland on Sunday before heading to NSW, where it is currently docked in Sydney
‘I’m sorry, but the sort of nonsense I heard on the network this morning was just foolish and I’m almost embarrassed I’m on the same broadcast network as that bloke, but anyway that’s another story I’ll deal with privately.’
Hadley has long previously for increased restrictions during Covid waves.
After departing Eden on the state’s south coast, where around 800 passengers disembarked following returning negative tests, the Coral Princess arrived at Circular Quay in Sydney, just before dawn on Wednesday.
Passengers will have to return a negative rapid antigen test before disembarking, with the crew to remain on board.
The cruise ship is then set to return back to its home port of Brisbane on Thursday.
There are 118 positive cases on board, however the outbreak is mostly among cruise staff, with only four passengers on board in isolation.
Princess Cruises said they were ‘doing everything possible’ to ensure the safety of guests and crew (pictured, the cruise ship docked at Sydney’s Circular Quay)
The outbreak has forced Princess Cruises to offer refunds to those booked on its next 12-day trip before it departed from Brisbane to Sydney on Monday.
A Princess Cruises spokesman on Tuesday said the crew who had tested positive in a recent full-screening were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.
The contagion on the vessel – which is a sister ship to the Ruby Princess that was linked to 28 deaths after an outbreak on board in 2020 – is the first for the local cruise industry since it resumed trips after the pandemic.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said protocols were in place on the ship before the outbreak.
She said some passengers are isolating at home or in other accommodation, while authorities are helping the company manage infected staff on board.
‘The virus is everywhere and there’s no escaping that,’ Ms D’Ath said earlier this week.
‘They will be testing staff more frequently at the moment and also encouraging any passengers with any symptoms whatsoever to come forward and get tested and they will have to isolate as well.’
A woman takes a photo of the view from her balcony after the ship docked in Circular Quay
Princess Cruises said they were ‘doing everything possible’ to ensure the safety of guests and crew.
‘We are adhering to comprehensive protocols that were agreed in conjunction with federal and state authorities and we are confident that they are working effectively,’ a spokesman told Australian Associated Press.
Protocols include regular testing of all crew who must be fully vaccinated.
‘Should any crew member test positive, they go into isolation on board and have no contact with guests,’ Princess Cruises said.
‘We recently advised embarking guests that in the most recent full screening of crew some had returned positive tests and that this was being managed effectively in line with our protocols.
Protocols onboard include regular testing of all crew who must be fully vaccinated (guests take in the view of Sydney Harbour on their balconies on Wednesday)
Crew members and passengers who test positive to the virus must remain onboard until they can return a negative Covid test. Above, a passenger looks out at Sydney after the ship docked
‘As guests look forward to their cruise holidays, we want them to be confident in knowing that everything possible is being done to ensure they do so in an environment that is as safe as it can be.’
A NSW Health spokesperson said cruise operators are responsible for keeping passengers and crews safe from infectious diseases including Covid-19, in line with the Eastern Seaboard Cruise Protocols.
‘NSW Health is liaising with the Coral Princess cruise ship to monitor the health of its passengers and crew members,’ they said.
‘While a small number of passengers have been diagnosed with Covid since boarding the Coral Princess, their infections were most likely acquired prior to boarding and they subsequently tested positive.