Sydney: Australian police on Thursday raided and seized the black box of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, the country’s biggest source of the novel coronavirus cases, to shed light on how some 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark from the ship on March 19 in Sydney despite displaying flu-like symptoms.
Detectives in charge of the raid also questioned the captain and some crew members of the cruise ship, which is docked at Port Kembla, about 100 km south of Sydney, Efe news quoted New South Wales (NSW) Police as saying in a statement.
NSW Commissioner Mick Fuller announced on Sunday that a criminal investigation was being launched to determine if any biosecurity laws were broken in allowing passengers to disembark from the cruise ship despite the Australian government having banned the entry of cruise vessels days earlier.
Of the more than 6,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, which include 51 deaths, more than 600 infections and 21 deaths (15 passengers) have been linked to the cruise, whose passengers got off the ship and went to different cities without undergoing quarantine and which has become the single largest source of COVID-19 cases in Australia.
Moreover, the ship, registered in Bermuda and owned by Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise operator, also has more than 1,000 crew members of about 50 nationalities aboard, most of whom want to stay on the ship.
“They feel safe on the ship, and I think that’s a good outcome,” Fuller told reporters on Thursday.
There are 18 confirmed cases among the crew members while 200 are exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
Australian media recently reported that, a day before the ship docked Sydney, a crew member called the emergency service number requesting medical assistance for two of the passengers.
An ambulance supervisor concerned about potential infection of passengers had transferred the call to NSW Police Marine Area Command.
Meanwhile, the Australian Border Force and the NSW government have been blaming each other for allowing passengers to disembark from the cruise ship.