'No stone unturned': NSW establishes new inquiry into Ruby Princess cruise ship

NSW Police Rescue officers look on as the Ruby Princess, with crew only onboard, docks at Port Kembla, Wollongong. Source: AAP

The NSW government has established a commission of inquiry into the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which is responsible for 18 coronavirus deaths in Australia.

The NSW government will establish a commission of inquiry into the disembarkation of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which is linked to at least 18 coronavirus-related deaths across Australia.

The inquiry will report back within four months, with NSW police and coronial investigations running in parallel to the probe.

Barrister Bret Walker SC will serve as commissioner for the inquiry and will examine the ship's departure, arrival and disembarkation.

"It is important that answers are provided quickly for the people of NSW," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We will leave no stone unturned until we find out exactly what happened."

The Ruby Princess, which departed Sydney on March 8 for New Zealand and returned on March 19, is responsible for hundreds of COVID-19 cases nationwide including 369 in NSW and nearly a third of the 62 deaths across the country.

Some 2700 passengers were permitted to disembark in Sydney without adequate health checks, an action blamed by the Australian Border Force on NSW health authorities.

NSW Health, meanwhile, is ramping up COVID-19 testing in several parts of the state as more residents and staff members test positive for the virus at a Sydney aged care facility.

Dozens of Ruby Princess passengers with COVID-19 were allowed to disembark in Sydney in March, after an 11-day round trip to New Zealand.
Ruby Princess passengers with COVID-19 were allowed to disembark in Sydney in March, after an 11-day round trip to New Zealand.

Anglicare was informed by NSW Health on Tuesday that five staff and four residents linked to the organisation's Newmarch House facility in Caddens had tested positive as of 4pm.

It comes after an employee is said to have worked for several days before testing positive for COVID-19.

Earlier on Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases in NSW on Tuesday had risen by just seven to 2870, with 32 patients in intensive care.

The state's death toll remained at 26.

Ms Berejiklian said she was glad to see the COVID-19 curve flatten but warned the virus could quickly reappear if social restrictions were not heeded.

Testing is this week being ramped up in several areas including Sydney's inner west, Penrith, Liverpool, Randwick, Waverley, Woollahra, Blacktown, Westmead, Manning and Lake Macquarie.

Those who test negative in the coming weeks will also be able to receive a text message on the same day their result comes in.

This would halve the time currently required to inform a patient of their results and reduce anxiety and self-isolation time, Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said.

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

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