Virus-hit Carnival cruise ship docks in Australia for crew emergencies

Virus-hit Carnival cruise ship docks in Australia for crew emergencies
Virus-hit Carnival cruise ship docks in Australia for crew emergencies

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Princess Cruises-owned Ruby Princess is pictured docked at Circular Quay during the disembarkation of passengers in Sydney, Australia, March 19, 2020. — AAP Image/Dean Lewins pic via Reuters

MELBOURNE, April 6 — Carnival Corp's troubled Ruby Princess cruise liner docked at a port on Australia's east coast today to help remove crew who need urgent medical treatment and to refuel the ship to send it away.

The Ruby Princess has been the biggest single source of Australia's 5,687 Covid-19 cases and is now the target of a criminal investigation led by the homicide squad in the state of New South Wales (NSW).

A Carnival Australia spokesman said today the company would cooperate with the probe.

“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,” the spokesman said in emailed comments.

The investigation will focus on communications and actions that led to the docking and disembarking of the ship's 2,700 passengers on March 19 at Sydney Harbour to see whether national biosecurity laws or state laws were broken, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said yesterday.

There have been at least 360 Covid-19 cases, including crew members, associated with the Ruby Princess. At least six of them are reported to have died, making up at least one-sixth of Australia's total death toll of 36 as of today, the Australian government said.

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. They were required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The ship has remained in Australian waters and today docked at Port Kembla in northern New South Wales, with the remaining 1,040 crew from 50 different countries on board to stay in isolation for 10 days, Fuller said today.

Two crew members were taken off for medical help yesterday, and more would be taken off if necessary for health reasons, he said.

Cruise ships have accounted for around a fifth of Australia's 5,687 confirmed cases of Covid-19. The government banned cruise ships from docking except for emergencies as of mid-March and has sent off most of the cruise ships that remained in Australian waters over the past week.

Australia has seen a sharp drop off in new cases over the past week, after the country imposed tight new measures limiting public gatherings to two people, shutting pubs, restaurants, and gyms, closing state borders and quarantining people off all incoming flights in hotels for 14 days.

“We are seeing some early positive signs as a result of the restrictions we're putting in place,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters today. — Reuters

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