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Published on Sunday, April 5, 2020

Criminal investigation launched into Ruby Princess

Australia has launched a criminal investigation into how cruise passengers with possible Covid-19 symptoms were allowed to leave the Ruby Princess in Sydney.

More than 600 people from the Princess Cruises ship later tested positive for coronavirus, 10 of whom have since died.

The Princess Cruises ship remains off the coast of Australia with almost 200 sick crew members on board. Carnival Australia, the ship's parent comany, is appealing to Australia to allow them to be repatriated.

Police in New South Wales said they would look into whether national biosecurity laws had been broken.

Australia has so far reported 5,548 coronavirus cases, almost 10% of which were from the Ruby Princess.

At a news conference, New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said cruise ships were only allowed to dock and disembark passengers if the captain could assure the local authorities that their ship was free from contagious disease, but he said there were 'discrepancies' involving the information provided by Ruby Princess owners, Carnival Australia, and the requirements of the law.

"The only way I can get to the bottom of whether our national biosecurity laws and our state laws were broken is through a criminal investigation," he said.

Carnival responsed saying: "We have seen the Police Commissioner's announcement. In addition to willingly participating in the investigation, Carnival Australia will vigorously respond to any allegations of which there must now be full disclosure and the basis for them."

Fuller said that the day before passengers disembarked in Sydney a worker made an emergency call about two people who needed medical assistance. He said police were assured by the operating company that the coronavirus was not an issue on the ship.

"From that perspective, there are many unanswered questions," he added.

The New South Wales government has been criticised for allowing people off the ship, but it has insisted that the decision was based on expert advice.

The Ruby Princess arrived in Sydney in March with 2,700 people onboard, including a dozen passengers who reported flu-like symptoms. They were tested for Covid-19 and one was taken by ambulance to hospital, but other passengers were allowed to disembark without being told it was possible they had been exposed to the coronavirus, said the BBC.

The following day, officials revealed cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in three passengers, by which time several passengers had already flown home, some back to the UK.

Meanwhile, crew - some of whom are sick - remain stranded on the ship off the coast of Australia. In a statement, Carnival Australia said: "Carnival Australia is participating in high level federal and state discussions with the aim of enabling the repatriation of crew currently on board Ruby Princess on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.

"Being able to send home those crew members who are not required for the safe operation of the ship is the right thing to do both from a humanitarian point of view and Australia's international standing as a maritime nation that looks after foreign nationals in its care.

"We are particularly concerned that a humanitarian approach should be taken in relation to the crew on Ruby Princess, which has left NSW territorial waters as demanded by the NSW Government.

"However, we remain concerned that it is not safe for the ship to sail away from Australia while there are crew members on board who are ill. While illness on board has been reduced due to strong health management, the ship needs to remain within reach of Australia to access healthcare services if an urgent need arises.

"Australia has maritime obligations to protect the welfare of seafarers and as such we need to care for foreign nationals as we would expect other nations to care for Australians in similar circumstances abroad.

"Repatriation of Ruby Princess's crew would be an important step in upholding Australia's reputation as a caring maritime nation."


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  • We all take our lumps

    A great majority, if not all of the news we're getting about the coronavirus on board ships is coming from the Princess brand. And recently Holland America. Why are they still sailing? The publicity alone will cost them dearly....and they are all Carnival Corp. brands! Isn't it time for Carnival Corp. to stand up and say "safety to our passengers and crew is paramount" and just stop sailing for a few weeks? Or is the monetary gain so high, they're willing to take a chance? Let's just all take our lumps and think of the passengers and crew! It's devastated our business. But we'll be here when it's over. The questions is whether any of the public will step foot on another ship.

    By , Monday, April 6, 2020

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