NSW Police Launch Criminal Investigation Into Ruby Princess Cruise Ship Docking
A criminal investigation will be launched into how the cruise line operator Carnival Australia was allowed to disembark the Ruby Princess in Sydney Harbour, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said on Sunday.
Thousands of passengers exited the ship in Circular Quay on March 19.
At the time, state health authorities said they considered the ship had a "low risk" of carrying coronavirus.
Fuller said "there are many unanswered questions" about why the 2,700 passengers were allowed to leave the ship and then make their own way home, with some going on to catch planes or ride public transport.
However, he said NSW Port Authority did "an exceptional job" and made contact with the ship on numerous occasions.
The NSW Police Commissioner said Port Authority stopped the ship from coming into Sydney Harbour without further medical information.
He said they made contact with the operations manager from Carnival but were informed COVID-19 was not an issue on the ship.
"There was a 17-minute conversation about two passengers that required medical assistance from the ship. After that call an ambulance supervisor concerned in terms of the terminology around the infectious nature of some of these passengers, he escalated the matter. He did an outstanding job," Fuller said.
"There were a number of phone calls between Ambulance, NSW Police and the NSW Port Authority. And, can I say, the NSW Port Authority did an exceptional job in trying to get to the bottom of the facts in relation to this case," he added.
The investigation will cover the actions of the port authority, ambulance, police, the NSW Health Department and Carnival Australia.
Detective Chief Inspector Jason Dickinson of homicide will lead the investigation and the coroner will be notified.
Fuller said the investigation will determine whether there was a breach of biosecurity laws and a violation of state legislation in terms of borders.
Carnival Australia responded to the announcement, offering full cooperation with the investigation.
"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," a statement read on Sunday.
The investigation comes after 10 people from the Ruby Princess cruise ship died and hundreds more passengers tested positive to COVID-19. NSW Health confirmed on Sunday that three of the four people who died in the state in the past 24 hours were passengers on the Ruby Princess cruise ship.
Fuller urged the "thousands of witnesses" who were passengers or staff on the Ruby Princess ship to contact CrimeStoppers if they had any information.
"There seems to be absolute discrepancies between the information provided by Carnival and what I would see is the benchmark for the laws that the Federal Government and the State Government put in place in terms of protecting Australians from cruise ships when coronavirus had started," Fuller said.
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