As the Ruby Princess prepares to leave Port Kembla this afternoon, the NSW Opposition says some crew members remain onboard against their wishes with no clear pathway to their home countries.
On Thursday morning, NSW Police began the third day of their repatriation mission for some crew and several buses have already left the port, carrying crew members who will be taken to Sydney hotels before they make their journey home.
The ship is scheduled to leave the port at 4pm, after being ordered to leave Australian waters by today by the Australian Border Force.
When this ship sets sail today, it will leave behind a trail of destruction as a direct result of the government's decision to allow thousands of people to disembark in the middle of a pandemic.
At Thursday's media briefing, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant confirmed that all crew who remain sick have now left the vessel, and will remain in quarantine and medical care until they are well enough to fly home.
"No one on the ship has active infection associated with COVID-19, we have removed the people with infection off the ship and they're currently residing in health facilities," she said.
Read more: Can the cover-up be worse than the crime?
"They will recuperate and be deemed non-infectious before they return home. The ship is now in a position to set sail from those perspectives."
But speaking at Port Kembla, Labor's health spokesman and Keira MP Ryan Park said he was not confident in the government's advice.
For several days, Labor politicians and union representative have raised concerns that the ship was being forced to set sail despite crew on board asking to disembark.
Mr Park said he was worried the government was most concerned with "getting this ship out of sight and out of mind".
"That is not in the best interests of the people onboard, or in the best interest of the special commission of inquiry that's happening," he said, noting crew members may be witnesses to what has happened on the ship over the past couple of months.
The ship is thought to be sailing to Manila, meaning it remains unclear what will happen to crew members of other nationalities once they reach the Philippines.
At 10.30am, Labor politicians received an email from a South African crew member on board, who said she was still "totally left in the dark".
"We were never mentioned in any of the onboard announcement for repatriation [and] despite being told not to call any on board numbers to check I have repeatedly tried to call the HR but no answer," she wrote to Labor leader Jodi McKay in an email seen by the Mercury.
"We have to stay on board and the company have not even told us where we are sailing to! Who knows when I we will be able to reach home! Myself and family are worried and scared what will happen next."
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys on Thursday told reporters authorities were "extremely confident" the Ruby Princess' departure from Port Kembla was imminent, with about 500 crew members remaining on board.
Groups have been disembarking the ship since Tuesday, with Mr Worboys saying about 550 crew members would leave the vessel by Thursday afternoon.
More than 300 crew members are currently disembarking the ship and will be taken to Sydney Airport where they will fly home to the Philippines on Thursday evening.
"A good quantity on that boat are willing to travel on that vessel," Mr Worboys said.
Mr Park said the ship's departure would be a milestone in the "worst public health disaster this community, this state and this nation has ever faced".
"When this ship sets sail today, it will leave behind a trail of destruction as a direct result of the government's decision to allow thousands of people to disembark in the middle of a pandemic," he said.
"This has been without a doubt the worst public health disaster this community, this state and this nation has ever faced. Long after the Ruby Princess leaves our shores the devastation and destruction of the catastrophic destruction that were made by the NSW Government will vibrate throughout the community both here and overseas."
He said around 900 cases has been linked to the ship, and noted 21 people had died from COVID-19 cases contracted on board.
Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.