Australian authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the matter concerning the docking of Ruby Princess cruise ship in Sydney last month. According to reports, the New Zealand-bound Ruby Princess cruise ship was docked in Sydney on March 19 and over 2,700 passengers and crew members disembarked into the city. After allowing the passengers to get off the ship, authorities discovered that four travellers from the cruise had tested positive for coronavirus.
As per reports, a total of 11 passengers who were on the ship have died due to coronavirus complications and 342 others remain infected. New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller in a statement on April 5 said that the investigation will probe actions of all parties, including government agencies and cruise line officials. Fuller also urged passengers to come out and cooperate in the investigation process.
Authorities faced a lot of criticism after the matter came into light last month, especially for allowing infected people to step foot on Australian soil. The number of coronavirus cases in Australia rose rapidly after the incident, leading to the country's highest concentration of infections. Australia now has over 3,400 active COVID-19 infections and 39 deaths in addition to 95 critical cases.
Princess issued a statement on its website on March 31, 10 days after the incident took place in Australia. The statement read, '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. 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 onboard 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."
The coronavirus infection has claimed more than 69,500 lives across the world and has infected over 12,76,000 people globally since it first broke out in December 2019. China was the most affected country until last month before Italy and Spain surpassed it to record the most number of deaths anywhere in the world due to COVID-19. The United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Iran have also overtaken China in terms of death toll related to COVID-19. The virus is believed to have originated from a seafood market in China's Wuhan city, the epicentre of the disease, where animals were reportedly being traded illegally.
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