Police in Australia launch criminal probe into coronavirus-stricken ship

Cheryl Sanders
April 6, 2020

State health authorities had classed the ship as low risk as it had sailed from Sydney to New Zealand, and the Australian Border Force issued a notice allowing the passengers to travel home freely.

The Ruby Princess cruise ship, carrying more than 1000 crew, docks at Port Kembla with an unknown number infected with coronavirus.

The Ruby Princess' hospital holds a maximum of 200 people, at which point sick crew would need to be removed and taken to NSW hospitals.

The investigation will cover the actions of the port authority, ambulance, police, the NSW Health deportment and Carnival Australia.

"Was Carnival or crew transparent in contextualizing the true patient/crew health conditions relevant to COVID-19?" he said.

New South Wales state police commissioner Mick Fuller said Sunday the operator faced "negligence-type" allegations on whether it breached state and federal Australian biosecurity laws.

The ship's now stationed off Sydney's coastline, where crew members have been tested for the virus.

"We will continue to make sure there is the highest level of security for the locals down in southern NSW".

"Taking sick crew passengers off at sea is a complex and unsafe task", Comm Fuller said, explaining the decision to dock the ship at Port Kembla.

Police in Australia said Sunday they were launching a criminal investigation into why a cruise ship was allowed to disembark in Sydney, resulting in more than 10% of the country's total coronavirus cases.

Since completing its journey in Sydney on March 19 there have been 342 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia among the 2647 passengers and 1100 crew on the journey. Since then, hundreds have tested positive and 11 have died, according to The Guardian.

NSW Police said the investigation will involve interviewing "thousands of witnesses, including the Ruby Princess' captain and doctors, the crew and passengers".

The government hopes that a period of isolation and intensive screening will provide a pathway to allow the Ruby Princess's crew to leave Australia.

"In addition to these laws, New South Wales Health adopted new national protocols in early March for cruise ships relating to COVID-19", he said. Those coming down with the virus in the United Kingdom include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the health secretary, England's chief medical official and Prince Charles, heir to the throne. (9News) The Ruby Princess Cruise Ship is seen off the coast of Sydney on March 24.

All other cruise ships have left NSW waters, heading towards ports in Asia after a weekend operation to transfer crews between ships in order to facilitate their return to their home countries.

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