The Ruby Princess docked at Port Kembla has around 200 unwell crew members on board. Picture: John Grainger
The Ruby Princess docked at Port Kembla has around 200 unwell crew members on board. Picture: John Grainger

Fate of 200 sick Ruby Princess crew

The Ruby Princess cruise ship, which is still docked in Port Kembla near Wollongong, is expected to stay at the port for 10 days while its 1040 crew members undergo medical assessments, treatment or emergency extractions.

About 200 crew have symptoms of coronavirus on board the 18-deck ship.

The vessel, which is linked to at least 622 COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths across Australia, is the single biggest source of coronavirus infections in Australia.

The NSW Police homicide squad is investigating why passengers were allowed to disembark from the ship in Sydney on March 19 despite concerns some might have contracted the illness.

The Ruby Princess docked at Port Kembla with at least 200 unwell crew members on-board. Picture: John Grainger
The Ruby Princess docked at Port Kembla with at least 200 unwell crew members on-board. Picture: John Grainger

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Tuesday told ABC Radio the investigation wouldn't be rushed.

"I just need to make sure I get the right outcome," he said.

"There is global attention. Do we rush it for some political win or do we do the proper job that we should do, which is a criminal investigation into what will be a complex matter with lots of witnesses?"

Mr Fuller said the unwell crew members currently on-board the ship would remain in their cabins unless they required hospital treatment. He said the ship was docked because the removal of unwell crew members was a "dangerous" task when a vessel was at sea.

It is understood it is Carnival Australia's responsibility to repatriate everyone.

The only way a crew member will come off the ship is to go straight to hospital. Picture: John Grainger
The only way a crew member will come off the ship is to go straight to hospital. Picture: John Grainger

The Wollongong community weren't particularly welcoming of the ship docking, with local MP Ryan Park, who also serves as the state's shadow health minister, particularly furious about the ship's arrival.

"Bloody appalling!" Mr Park wrote on Twitter.

"Why would you bring a toxic ship down to a regional port and potentially overrun our local hospital?

"We want the crew on-board to be treated properly so why would you take the ship away from where the majority of health and hospital services are.....Sydney!"

Speaking to reporters this morning, Mr Park claimed the ship had been brought in "under the cover of darkness" into a region that was already struggling with the pressures of coronavirus.

On Sunday, Mr Fuller announced a criminal investigation into the Ruby Princess. It will include cruise line operator Carnival Australia.

Speaking on Today on Monday, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said "heads have to roll" over the deadly fiasco.

The Ruby Princess will be docked at Port Kembla for around 10 days. Picture: John Grainger
The Ruby Princess will be docked at Port Kembla for around 10 days. Picture: John Grainger

"The Australian people will want answers to this. Heads have got to roll," she said.

Senator Hanson didn't mince words when she spoke about NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, saying responsibility for the Ruby Princess stuff-up must fall on him and Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

"I've heard from people that consider him weak and useless," she said of Mr Hazzard.

"But I'm sorry, heads have to roll over this."

Homicide squad heavyweight Detective Chief Inspector Jason Dickinson has been tasked with the investigation and will look at all agencies involved in the incident.

According to the ABC, Carnival Australia has indicated it will co-operate with the investigation and hand over any information required, including emails, text messages, radio transmissions and medical correspondence between the ship's doctor and captain.

- with Natalie Wolfe



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