Australian police reported Thursday that they have taken the “black box” of a cruise ship as part of a homicide investigation after 15 COVID-19 deaths were reportedly linked to the vessel. The ship, the Ruby Princess, was permitted to disembark 2,700 passengers last month without health checks. As a result, hundreds of passengers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and the ship has become Australia’s deadliest infection source.
As part of the investigation, the police interviewed the captain of the ship and collected electronic logs. By reviewing this evidence and the GPS evidence recorded by the black box, police are hoping to discover why the ship was allowed to dock in Sydney and drop off passengers despite the known danger the virus posed. New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller plans to collect extensive witness testimony to determine if state or national biosecurity laws were breached when the ship was permitted to dock. By law, vessels are typically only permitted to disembark passengers if the ship is disease-free.
At the moment, about 1,000 crew members remain on board, 18 of whom have already tested positive for the virus. Although Health Minister Greg Hunt has reported that Australia is effectively flattening the COVID-19 curve, New South Wales has yet to see a decrease in cases.
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