The NSW Police homicide squad is leading a new criminal investigation into the Ruby Princess fiasco, in an attempt to understand why 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark the cruise ship in Sydney last month when passengers were exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
Australia has recorded eleven deaths and nearly 600 positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) linked to the Ruby Princess, which docked in Circular Quay on March 19.
As The Guardian points out, that’s more than 30% of the nation’s COVID-19 death toll, and those 600 cases make up more than 10% of Australia’s tally.
In a statement released last night, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the only way to determine how and why the ship was allowed to release passengers into the city was with a thorough criminal investigation.
Citing a 17-minute 000 call from a concerned crew member before the ship docked, and communications between NSW Ambulance, NSW Port Authority, and NSW Police, Commissioner Fuller said some things just don’t add up.
“After reviewing the information at hand, the only way I can determine whether our national biosecurity laws or our state laws were broken is through a criminal investigation,” he said.
In a press conference, Commissioner Fuller said there appeared to be “absolute discrepancies” between information provided by Ruby Princess’ parent company, Carnival, and the new state and federal laws regarding cruise ships docking in Australia.
The investigation is slated to interview thousands of passengers, crew, and public officials involved with the decision.
Up to 200 of the 1040 crew members who remain on board have displayed symptoms of COVID-19, police said. At time of writing, 16 of those have been diagnosed with the virus.
The Ruby Princess is set to dock again in Port Kembla today.
The Guardian reports no crew members will disembark, except those in need of urgent medical attention, while Border Force operatives and health workers will enter the vessel to conduct COVID-19 tests on those still aboard.