A CRIMINAL investigation is expected to be launched today into the handling of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, after 11 people died from the coronavirus.
New South Wales police commissioner Mike Fuller, made the announcement after it was revealed four more passengers had died after contracting the virus on board.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
The total number of deaths on the cruise ship account for more than 30 percent of all Australian deaths from Covid-19.
The 2,700 passengers were allowed to freely disembark in Sydney on March 19, despite some travellers showing signs of respiratory illnesses, and some being taken to hospital with Covid-19 like symptoms.
At least 662 people linked to the cruise ship have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, more than 10 percent of Australia’s total cases.
Since the outbreak, state and federal government bodies have refused to take the blame and attempted to pass the buck back and forth.
Fuller, in a press conference today, focused his attention on the behaviour on the Carnival Cruise company.
He said: “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.
“The key question that remains unanswered … was Carnival transparent in contextualising the true patient and crew health conditions relevant to Covid-19?
“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 added: “The New South Wales Port Authority did an exceptional job in trying to get to the bottom of the facts in relation to this case.
“They made contact with the ship on numerous occasions.
“They actually stopped the ship from coming into Sydney harbour without further medical information, they made contact with operations manager from Carnival. And on each case they were informed that Covid-19 wasn’t an issue on the ship.”
Fuller also confirmed around 200 crew members on board were currently showing symptoms of the coronavirus but medical officers were still conducting tests.
On the night the cruise ship docked, NSW ambulance operators were told that several passengers who needed taking to hospital had been tested for Covid-19 but the results were still unknown, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
They claim this lead to port authorities denying the ship permission to dock, however a spokesperson from Carnival later allegedly called to say the ambulance has not been called due to Covid-19 concerns, and the ship was allowed into Circular Quay.
NSW Health had previously said that while passengers were taken from the ship to hospital who had flu-like symptoms, the ambulances were called because of other medical conditions, including lower back pain and heart problems.
A woman in her 70s, who was one of those passengers, died five days later of Covid-19 related illnesses.
The issue of cruise ship companies misleading authorities was raised by the home affairs minister Peter Dutton, earlier this week.
He told 2GB radio: “It’s clear that some of the companies have been lying about the situation of the health of passengers and crew on board, so what we’ve agreed to do with NSW is to look at each of the vessels.”
Previously a spokesperson for Princess Cruises said of the March 19 arrival: “Our onboard medical team was rigorous in its treatment of some guests who reported flu-like symptoms, and these guests were isolated.
“The ship reported these cases to NSW Health, which in turn requested swabs to be provided following the ship’s arrival in Sydney, some of which subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.”
On Sunday evening a spokesman for the company responded to the announcement of a criminal investigation.
He said: “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.”
NSW Health has also defended its actions, saying that while it was aware of 104 acute respiratory infections on board, they considered the ship to be “low risk” for carrying Covid-19.
Source: Read Full Article