Australia

NSW Police to launch criminal investigation into Ruby Princess saga as deaths linked to ship grow

The Ruby Princess cruise ship is seen from Kurnell National Park in Sydney. Source: AAP

The Ruby Princess cruise ship scandal will be scrutinised in a criminal investigation.

"The only way I can get to the bottom of whether our national biosecurity laws and our state laws were broken is through a criminal investigation," NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said on Sunday.

He said there was clear evidence COVID-19 had come from the Ruby Princess.

At least 11 passengers have died after contracting the virus on the ship.

The 11th death linked to the ship was confirmed on Sunday evening as a 78-year-old man with underlying health conditions. He died at Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital earlier in the day, Queensland Health said.

NSW Police's criminal investigation will cover the actions of the port authority, ambulance, police, the NSW Health department and Carnival Australia.

Detective Chief Inspector Jason Dickinson of homicide will lead the investigation and the coroner will be notified.

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NSW Police 'Operation Nemesis' sees five cruise ships restocked and moved out of Sydney Harbour
NSW Police 'Operation Nemesis' sees five cruise ships restocked and moved out of Sydney Harbour

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud - whose portfolio covers biosecurity - said society needed transparency.

"If the NSW Police are taking steps towards (the investigation) then they have information that would lead them to warrant that type of action and I would welcome that," Mr Littleproud told Sky News on Sunday.

"We live in a fair and just society and it needs to be transparent, and any investigation that police and officials make should be backed by any investigation that's required or whatever comes out of it obviously - I think we'll wait and see."

NSW Labor has called for Mr Hazzard to resign over the scandal, with the opposition labelling it "one of the greatest health disasters" in NSW history.

Carnival Australia has been contacted for comment.

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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