A SENIOR New South Wales Health official has been grilled over the Ruby Princess saga, whereby passengers were allowed to disembark the cruise ship and inadvertently spread coronavirus.

A public Commission of Inquiry is currently underway in Sydney led by Bret Walker SC.

Questioned by Commissioner Walker on why they did not wait longer before allowing passengers to leave the ship, Dr Sean Tobin, the state’s chief human biosecurity officer, confirmed indicated they did not want passengers to miss connecting flights.

“What is it that was weighing against waiting and seeing?” Mr Walker asked.

“I think it was the concern for the passengers primarily… to their flights,” Dr Tobin responded.

Counsel Assisting Richard Beasley said it seemed “screamingly obvious” to keep passengers on board until COVID-19 tests had been completed.

A report into the matter prepared by NSW Health also came in for harsh criticism during the hearing, with suggestions it amounted to “spin” or “weasel words”.