A fourth person who was not a Ruby Princess passenger brought the state’s death toll to 16 on Sunday.
The deaths were all men, aged 61, 76, 80, and 91, NSW Health protection executive director Dr. Jeremy McAnulty confirmed on Sunday.
McAnulty said it was likely three of the cases were acquired on board the Ruby Princess, confirming they had been passengers on board the cruise ship.
A total of 622 passengers onboard have tested positive for COVID-19 including 342 NSW residents.
The NSW government is under fire after leaked emails revealed results of onboard swab tests from the cruise ship’s passengers who were showing flu symptoms would have been available the same day passengers disembarked.
Despite the four deaths, NSW recorded a drop in the number of confirmed cases in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters on Sunday that NSW recorded 87 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 2,580. This is lower than the 104 cases confirmed on Saturday.
A total of 39 people are in intensive care units, with 23 on ventilators. The majority—1566 cases—were acquired overseas, McAnulty said.
He was hopeful NSW was flattening the curve of the outbreak.
“We want to be hopeful but not over-read the figures … we are hopeful that we are starting to flatten the curve but there’s more work to be done.”
Hazzard again urged young people to take the CCP virus pandemic seriously, revealing more than a quarter of the state’s current virus cases were in people aged under 29.
“I keep hearing messages that young people think this isn’t going to affect them … it can affect young people and it is currently affecting young people,” Hazzard said.
Of the state’s 2,580 current cases 565 are in people aged under 29, while a total of 105 cases are in people aged under 19. Three people in their 30s have been put on ventilators in intensive care.
“Take it seriously is my message to young people … if you don’t take it seriously for yourself when you hear those statistics, you should be taking it seriously for your friends, your family, the community,” Hazzard said.
“Because you can also pass it on to those other older people who are far more vulnerable.”
Meanwhile, the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command has concluded the largest maritime operation undertaken in Sydney Harbour to coordinate the crew movements and departure of five cruise ships.
‘Operation Nemesis’ worked closely with the NSW Ports Authority and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line to coordinate the safe return of the ships to their home ports.
More than 1,300 crew members, who were foreign nationals, were moved between the five ships in numerous tender operations, before the ships left NSW waters to return to their home countries.
By Heather McNab. NTD staff contributed to this article.