An elderly man who contracted COVID-19 on board the Ruby Princess cruise ship has made a stunning recovery after spending 77 days in ICU.
The 81-year-old, whose name has been given only as Richard, bravely battled the deadly disease at the Gold Coast University Hospital in Queensland, spending three months from March to June on and off a ventilator.
For the past couple of months he’s been out of critical care and will next week be moved into a rehabilitation unit to begin the final phase of his recovery, Queensland’s Health Minister Steven Miles said.
81-year-old Richard (pictured, centre) bravely battled COVID-19 in ICU at the Gold Coast University Hospital in Queensland for 77 days
Richard (pictured) contracted coronavirus on board the ill-fated Ruby Princess cruise ship back in March
Carnival’s Ruby Princess cruise ship (pictured) has been linked to more than 660 COVID-19 cases and 28 deaths
‘I want to make special mention today of Richard,’ Mr Miles said on Friday.
‘He knows better than anyone just how awful this disease can be, how great our hospital services are at saving lives from COVID but also how long it can take to recover.’
Although Richard spent more time in ICU battling coronavirus than any other patient in Queensland, a NSW woman holds the unenviable Australian record.
Former opera singer Arnela Regaliza spend 107 days in Sydney’s Westmead Hospital’s ICU after becoming infected with COVID-19 on a return flight from the Philippines in early March.
At one point during her stay, she was clinically dead for 12 minutes.
The ill-fated voyage of Carnival Corporation’s Ruby Princess cruise ship has been linked to more than 660 COVID-19 cases and 28 deaths, including eight in the U.S.
Pictured: The Ruby Princess departing Port Kembla in Wollongong, south of Sydney on April 23
Some local residents came to wave off the Ruby Princess on April 23 (pictured) in Woolongong, as it finally set sail for the Philippines
Over 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark on March 19 in Sydney after botched health screenings.
Last month, a scathing report into the public health blunder launched in April, described the failings of state government as ‘inexcusable’ and ‘inexplicable’.
The investigation led by barrister Bret Walker concluded that all passengers should have been tested for coronavirus and ordered to undergo a mandatory period of quarantine.
But health officials deemed the ship ‘low risk’ and gave the okay for passengers to travel freely into the community.
The state of Queensland recorded only two new infections of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,145.
‘Both of them were in quarantine and were known to be direct contacts of already confirmed cases,’ Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
‘One of them, the seventh member of a household, all who now have had COVID-19 but who were in quarantine and the other a confirmed community contact of a case.’
There are now 28 cases in the state which remain active, with 10 patients are being treated in hospital.
The state’s coronvirus death toll stands at six.
Timeline of Ruby Princess fiasco
March 18: The Ruby Princess issues an urgent mayday call for an ambulance for two of its passengers presenting with coronavirus-like symptoms 24 hours before the ship is allowed to dock in Sydney.
March 19: The Ruby Princess arrives in Sydney Harbour. More than 2,700 guests are allowed to disembark without adequate health checks.
March 25: Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram says New South Wales Health is responsible for letting coronavirus patients disembark the ship.
March 29: Several crew members are evacuated and taken to hospital after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
April 2: A 66-year-old crew member is taken off the Ruby Princess for medical treatment. More than 200 crew members are sick and in self-isolation.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian defends the actions of NSW Health and the Australian Border Force and points the finger at the Ruby Princess. She claims staff onboard may have misled NSW Health about the extent of illnesses in passengers.
April 3: Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton alleges Ruby Princess’ operators weren’t transparent about the health of crew: ‘It was ‘clear that some of the companies have been lying about the health of passengers and crew on board’.
April 4: Leaked emails show NSW Health knew of the coronavirus risk on board the Ruby Princess before allowing its thousands of passengers to disembark.
April 5: A criminal investigation is launched into how passengers were able to disembark without health checks
April 8: A team of 30 detectives from state crime, counter terrorism and marine area command start investigating the handling of the Ruby Princess coronavirus scandal. The first briefing into the investigation is held.
April 9: NSW Police clad in PPE equipment raid the vessel, questioning its captain and searching for evidence in a rapid escalation of the criminal investigation.
April 11: NSW Health confirms that at least 46 crew members of the Ruby Princess cruise ship have contracted COVID-19
April 13: NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says patient zero on board may have been a crew member serving meals to hundreds of passengers
April 15: NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announces an independent special commission to investigate the Ruby Princess fiasco
April 23: With 500 crew left on board, the Ruby Princess left Australian waters to sail to Manila in the Phillipines