Australia

Coronavirus-plagued Ruby Princess cruise ship docks at Port Kembla as criminal probe begins

The Ruby Princess cruise ship has docked at Sydney's Port Kembla. Source: AAP

The Ruby Princess has docked in Port Kembla as NSW homicide detectives begin a criminal investigation into the ill-fated cruise ship.

Australia's attorney-general says the legal fallout from the Ruby Princess scandal could be "very serious" as homicide detectives investigate how infected passengers were let off the ship.

The Ruby Princess cruise ship has been linked to 11 deaths and hundreds of COVID-19 cases across Australia since it docked in Sydney on March 19.

The NSW Police homicide squad is now conducting a criminal investigation into the decision to let passengers off the ship before a number COVID-19 test results were known.

Attorney-General Christian Porter on Monday backed the NSW Police investigation.

"Of course, there's a whole range of offences, including civil fraud, that may have been possibly committed and that's what the investigation is about," he told ABC Radio.

"If those offences can be substantiated by evidence then they would be very, very serious indeed."

A file photo of the Ruby Princess cruise ship.
A file photo of the Ruby Princess cruise ship.
AAP

The Ruby Princess docked at Port Kembla near Wollongong south of Sydney on Monday morning with 1040 crew on board.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says this will make it easier for the 200 crew members showing coronavirus symptoms to get medical treatment.

"The reason we need to dock it is because of the regular supplies that need to go on the ship," he told reporters on Monday.

"Taking sick crew off at sea is a complex and dangerous task."

NSW Health recently boarded the Ruby Princess with the help of Aspen Medical to assess the health of the crew.

Aspen Medical executive chairman Glenn Keys said the crew don't need to leave the ship for treatment.

"In our view, they can be treated on board," he told ABC Radio.

"The ship's been good in spreading the crew out to make sure there is enough room. They've got fresh air and the treatment they need."

Ruby Princess owner Carnival Australia says the company is assisting the police 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 spokesman said in a statement.

NSW has now recorded 18 coronavirus deaths and 2637 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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