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Seized the black box of the ship ‘Ruby Princess’, the largest source of the virus in the country
Dressed in the white protective suit, black gloves, adjustable goggles and a large mask, a group of Australian police officers searched the Ruby Princess cruiser last Thursday and seized its black box. Their approach is part of the ongoing investigation into the landing of the passengers of this ship in Sydney three weeks ago, which in the end has become the largest source of coronavirus in the oceanic country.
“The officers got on board the Ruby Princess to collect evidence,” said Mick Fuller , head of the New South Wales state police. One of them was the black box of the boat, “very similar to that of airplanes,” he explained. These phosphor colored devices, which facilitate their location in the event of an accident, record a large number of parameters on the operation of the ship (course, speed, etc.), as well as the conversations held between the most important positions, such as the command bridge or machine control room.
The 2,700 passengers received permission to disembark in Sydney despite some having symptoms
Detectives in charge of the search also questioned the captain and part of the cruise ship’s crew, which has been docked in Port Kembla, south of Sydney, since Monday. “The operation was carried out under the strictest safety and health guidelines,” he added.
On March 19, the 2,700 passengers aboard the cruise ship were cleared to disembark in Sydney despite some already showing flu-like symptoms. Without being quarantined, many of them went to various cities in the country. Since then, of the more than 6,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country – including 51 deaths – more than 600 infections and 21 deaths – including 15 passengers – have been linked to the cruise, according to local channel ABC.
Last Sunday, Fuller announced the launch of a criminal investigation to determine whether national or state biosecurity laws were violated. As known so far, the state health authorities (NSW Health) classified the cruise as low risk because it had sailed from Sydney to New Zealand, two countries with hardly any cases of coronavirus at the time.
However, Australian media recently revealed that a crew member made a call to the emergency line the day before landing to request medical attention for two passengers. In addition, a paramedic on the ship is known to have expressed concern about the potential contagion among the passengers, so they contacted the New South Wales Maritime Police. Meanwhile, the border authorities and the state government of New South Wales hold each other responsible for having made the decision to give the green light to the landing.
After leaving Sydney, the Ruby Princess, owned by the multinational Carnival, docked last Monday in Port Kembla with more than a thousand crew members, of some 50 nationalities, of which 18 are confirmed cases of Covid-19 and others 200 have symptoms. According to Fuller, three-quarters of them want to stay inside the ship for now. “They feel safe on the boat and I think it is a good solution.” In principle, the ship is scheduled to remain in port for ten days to refuel and load provisions before leaving for Bermuda.
The pandemic is proving devastating to the cruise industry, which has experienced episodes of strong viral outbreaks on board in Japan, USA. or South America. Although operators have halted most of the global fleet, more than a dozen transatlantic liners have been stranded at sea over the past few weeks, as countries refused to allow them to port if they were carrying infected passengers.
Australia reported the lowest increase in new coronavirus cases in more than three weeks on Thursday. According to the Minister of Health, Greg Hunt, there were 96 infections, the first time it has dropped from 100 since March 17. “We are seeing some positive signs as a result of the restrictions,” said New South Wales Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian. To limit the impact of the virus on the economy, an A $ 130 billion wage subsidy program (about € 75 billion) has been approved.
Source: La Vanguardia