AN AUSTRALIAN Border Force officer who allowed people to disembark the Ruby Princess cruise ship mistakenly believed passengers displaying “flu-like symptoms” had tested negative to COVID-19, when they had instead tested negative for the common flu, it has been reported.

However the Australian Border Force has issued a release saying it “strongly refutes” claims in Andrew Probyn’s ABC 7:30 reporting.

According to ABC 7 30, the new revelations challenge Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram’s assertion in March that NSW Health was responsible for allowing passengers to disembark.

According to the ABF, the ABF only has legislative responsibilities for the Customs and Migration Act to clear vessels and people travelling from overseas ports.

“No ABF officer had authority to make biosecurity decisions in relation to the Ruby Princess, including about pratique,” the agency stated.

“The ABF responsibility does not include preventing the disembarkation of passengers or crew for human health reasons.

“The ABF’s responsibility is to ensure that no one enters Australia with contraband and all passengers and crew are either Australian citizens or have an appropriate visa.

According to the ABF, any misinterpretation by ABF officers of test results did not make a difference as to whether passengers were cleared to disembark the Ruby Princess.

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“Human health is not the responsibility of the ABF,” it stated.

“The continuous criticism of the ABF’s involvement in this matter at this time is unhelpful and distracting as agencies work together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.”

The matter has become the subject of a class action lodged by Shine Lawyers against the ship operators.

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