Tag: Sydney Harbour
Police have launched a criminal investigation into whether the operator of the Ruby Princess downplayed potential coronavirus cases before thousands of passengers disembarked in Sydney last month.
- A 17-minute triple-0 call was made from the vessel the day before passengers disembarked in Sydney
- Police said Carnival Australia said COVID-19 was not an issue on the vessel
- Nearly 200 crew who are still on board are showing symptoms of COVID-19
Eleven passengers have died from COVID-19 since the vessel docked at Circular Quay on March 19 — the latest being a 78-year-old who died in Queensland earlier this afternoon.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said there were “many unanswered questions” about the cruise, which was operated by Carnival Australia.
“There seems to be absolute discrepancies between the information provided by Carnival and what I would see as the benchmark for the laws that the Federal Government and the State Government put in place in terms of protecting Australians from cruise ships when coronavirus had started,” Commissioner Fuller said.
“The only way I can get to the bottom of whether our national biosecurity laws and our state laws were broken is through a criminal investigation.”
Nearly 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark despite others on board experiencing flu-like symptoms.
More than 600 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been linked back to the cruise, which remains off the NSW coast with nearly 200 sick crew onboard.
The Commissioner said by law a vessel was only allowed to dock if the captain could assure authorities it was free from contagion.
Police told COVID-19 ‘not an issue’ despite 17-minute emergency call
He revealed that on the day before passengers disembarked, a worker on the cruise made a 17-minute triple-0 call about two passengers who required medical assistance.
He said an ambulance supervisor was concerned about potential infection of passengers on the cruise and escalated the call to NSW Police Marine Area Command.
Commissioner Fuller said police were told by operation managers from Carnival that COVID-19 was not an issue on the ship.
“From that perspective, there are many unanswered questions,” he said.
He said the homicide squad’s Detective Chief Inspector Jason Dickinson would tomorrow be given materials which had been gathered during the past 48 hours.
He said the investigation would look into all agencies involved in the incident.
It is understood NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard will be interviewed.
Carnival Australia, the Commissioner said, sent a letter to police indicating it would cooperate with the investigation and hand over any information required.
That includes emails, text messages, radio transmissions and medical correspondence between the doctor and ship’s captain.
A spokesperson for Carnival Australia said it would “vigorously respond to any allegations of which there must now be full disclosure and the basis for them”.
The announcement of the investigation came as emergency services staff transported crew members from the vessel to St George Hospital in south Sydney this afternoon.
Police said there were still nearly 200 crew on board the Ruby Princess with COVID-19 symptoms.
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They said there were isolation plans in place and most crew members were in good health.
“We’ve extracted another person today who needs medical assistance and we’ll continue to take people off who need medical assistance,” he said.
“No-one has been denied that and no-one will be denied.”
In dramatic scenes, boats crewed by workers in hazmat suits were seen speeding to and away from the Ruby Princess, moored off Botany Bay in Sydney’s south.
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Three cruise ships left Sydney Harbour overnight following a mass police operation to send vessels affected by the virus home, but the Ruby Princess has remained moored off the NSW coast.
NSW Police described it as the largest peacetime maritime operation in Sydney’s history.
It was completed in about 30 hours to allow the ships to leave Australian waters.
Here’s what you need to know this morning.
First school, university go online
An independent school on Sydney’s upper north shore will become the first in NSW to move all lessons online amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to parents, Pymble Ladies’ College asked parents to keep their daughters at home, with all classes from kindergarten to year 12 to become completely online on Thursday.
The school says the move will prevent transmission of the virus on campus while allowing students to continue their education.
It comes as the University of Sydney announces face-to-face classes will be suspended from Monday, with all teaching to be delivered online.
A man is dead and two people have minor injuries following a shooting on the Central Coast last night.
NSW Police were called to Cutler Drive, Wyong, about 6:00pm but requested assistance from specialist negotiators after a 40-year-old man allegedly fired multiple shots.
After the hour-long stand-off was brought under control, officers found the body of a 20-year-old Wattanobbi man at a home in nearby Maple Street.
A 45-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man sustained minor injuries and remain in a stable condition in hospital.
Sydney student tests positive
A student at the University of Technology has tested positive for COVID-19.
“Twenty-seven students and a staff member who were identified as having come into close contact with the affected student during a single class are being contacted”, the university told students in an email.
Intensive cleaning took place overnight in line with NSW Health guidelines, but no other class was affected, the university said.
On Tuesday, UTS paused all teaching activities for a week to allow for social distancing plans to be enacted. Classes are set to resume on Tuesday, March 24.
Quarantine for cruiser-goers
Passengers on board several cruise ships docking in Sydney this morning will be forced to quarantine themselves, as a precautionary measure amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bruce Punch was on board the Royal Caribbean’s Voyager cruise ship, which has been floating around Sydney Harbour in recent days waiting to dock.
He said Australian Border Force (ABF) officials told passengers on board the ship they had already served six days of their enforced 14 days’ quarantine since leaving their last port in the Pacific Islands.
He said would self-isolate at his south-western Sydney home for another eight days, but “we actually feel we’re safer here than back on land, to be quite honest”.
Federal Court cancels cases
The Federal Court has cancelled all cases that require people to be in court from today to lessen the risk of coronavirus transmission.
The court is determining the feasibility of matters being heard using remote-access technology.
The Family Court registry in Sydney’s Goulburn Street will reopen today after being closed for cleaning prompted by a legal practitioner testing positive for COVID-19.
All new NSW Supreme and District Court jury trials remain suspended until further notice.
Wednesday’s weatherMostly clear. Light winds Min.Max.CBD1526Parramatta1227
Hundreds of travellers in Central Australia who had plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Melbourne and Sydney were left stranded overnight when Jetstar cancelled two flights out of Uluru.
- Jetstar said IT issues were behind the cancellation of flights to Sydney and Melbourne
- Hundreds of passengers were bused more than 450 kilometres to Alice Springs to spend New Year’s Eve in the town
- Virgin and Qantas boarded their flights during the internet outage, using manual methods to check passengers in
Instead of travelling to Sydney and Melbourne, an estimated 250-300 passengers were bused more than 450 kilometres to Alice Springs where they arrived after 11pm before being placed on alternate flights on Wednesday.
Jetstar said the flights were cancelled due to a ‘Telstra IT issue’ affecting check-in systems.
Canadian Wade Kelly, who now lives Melbourne, said it was an extremely frustrating day.
“We sit on the floor [at the airport] for six hours, in that time there’s three to four announcements — Qantas and Virgin are able to board their flights, but we’re unable to board our flights, [and there’s] hundreds of people just sitting and waiting,” he said.
“They just kept on saying they couldn’t check people in without the internet, [but] somehow Qantas and Virgin still got their flights off”.
Qantas and Virgin both confirmed they had other measures in place to check passengers onto their flights despite the outage, though the Qantas flight was delayed by almost two hours.
‘It was unbelievable incompetence’
Mr Kelly said the only communication from the airline had been announcements at the airport saying there was an internet issue preventing check-in, and then a single email apologising for the inconvenience.
“It’s just unbelievable, it’s a comedy of errors, I don’t blame the staff but I do blame the administration of Jetstar,” he said.
“It was unbelievable incompetence, everything that should’ve been done wasn’t done and it’s just appalling.
“They’ve ruined everyone’s New Year’s Eve — some of these people have come around the world to be in Sydney or Melbourne for New Year’s, they’ve paid thousands and thousands of dollars.”
Mr Kelly said Jetstar did not explain why the passengers could not stay in Yulara and catch a flight the following day.
Holiday plans stay grounded
Passengers told the ABC they were given an apple, cheese and crackers, and a muesli bar for dinner, but one traveller said she could not eat any of the food provided as she had diabetes.
Wayne Thompson, NT Manager of the Australian Transit Group, was asked to organise several buses to Uluru from Alice Springs, and he said many of the passengers were upset.
“Talking to a couple of the Japanese younger couples, I felt very sorry for them because they had purchased premium rooms over Sydney Harbour to view the bridge to watch New Year’s Eve [fireworks] from their hotel room” he said.
Jetstar issued a statement saying all affected customers were provided accommodation, meal allowances and transport to and from hotels.
“A Telsta IT issue affected our airport check-in systems at Uluru (Ayres Rock Airport) yesterday, impacting two of our flights” the statement read.
“We appreciate delays are frustrating, particularly at this time of year and apologise to customers for the impact to their journey.”
Telstra confirmed it had a loss of mains power at the Indulkana telephone exchange in the APY Lands which impacted fixed line services in the region.
A Telstra spokesperson said a temporary generator was transported from Alice Springs and all services were restored at approximately 6pm on New Year’s Eve.
The spokesperson said the cause of the power loss was not yet known.