The cruise ship at the heart of Australia’s biggest coronavirus controversy, the Ruby Princess, is due to leave the country this week.
Currently docked at Port Kembla on the New South Wales south coast, the ship still has over 1000 crew members on board, 171 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19. There are a further 12 crew members in NSW hospital with the disease.
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said a number of authorities were working with the ship’s operator, Carnival Australia, towards getting the crew members back to their home countries so the ship could leave Australia by the end of the week.
“It is important that we get this right,” he said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
“There is a window of opportunity now to see those people off the boat. We will be keen to see that go on Thursday.”
How the Ruby Princess was allowed to dock at Circular Quay in Sydney Harbour on 19 March and have its approximately 2,700 passengers disembark without being checked for coronavirus or made to isolate, even though there were passengers aboard allegedly known to be exhibiting symptoms, is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.
Over 400 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among the passengers of the fateful voyage, with 21 deaths so far, according to the ABC. It is also thought to be the source of at least one subsequent coronavirus cluster, in New Zealand.
Carnival Australia have said they will be fully refunding passengers of the cruise.