Ship at centre of virus outbreak raided by police

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (AP) — Police wearing protective gear boarded a cruise ship to seize evidence and question crew members of the vessel linked to hundreds of coronavirus infections and 15 deaths across Australia.

About 2,700 passengers disembarked from the ship on March 19 in Sydney and it has since become the largest source of coronavirus infections in Australia. More than 600 cases of COVID-19 and 15 deaths are linked to the ship, the Ruby Princess.

New South Wales police, which boarded the ship on Wednesday night at Port Kembla south of Sydney, said it’s expected to remain in port for 10 days with its 1,040 crew undergoing medical assessments. About 200 crew have shown symptoms of COVID-19, while 18 have tested positive for the virus that causes it. The workers remaining on the ship are from 50 countries.

New South Wales police Commissioner Mick Fuller said yesterday that officers seized a black box “very similar to that of international planes” and other evidence. He said the captain had been extremely helpful.

“I can confirm there’s still over 1,000 crew members on the ship,” he said, adding that three-quarters of them want to remain on the ship. “They feel safe on the ship and I think that’s a good outcome.”

The ship’s owner, Princess Cruises, is a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation. Carnival Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.