Police believe the COVID-19 outbreak onboard Ruby Princess was likely started by a staff member, as the death toll rises to 18.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said that initial investigations had suggested an infected crew member, most likely a waiter or someone who handled food, was probably the cause of the outbreak, according to ABC News.
“That would seem to be the most obvious point of transmission — someone that is handling food on behalf of multiple hundreds of people,” he said.
Police have launched an investigation to find out the circumstances that led to the docking and disembarking of Ruby Princess at Sydney Harbour on 19 March.
Fuller initially expressed concerns over whether the ship followed state and biosecurity rules in relation to COVID-19.
More than 600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been linked back to the cruise ship and 18 passengers have since died, the latest being a 74-year-old man from South Australia over the weekend.
Police said the investigation will involve interviewing thousands of witnesses, including the Ruby Princess’ captain and doctors, the crew and passengers; and staff from various Commonwealth and NSW government offices and agencies.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told media at a press conference earlier today that the investigation is expected to be completed by September.
Police have also been advised that up to 200 of the 1,040 crew members remaining on the ship are displaying symptoms, while 16 have confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Last week, police announced Ruby Princess will be berthing in Port Kembla for up to 10 days to allow safer access for medical assessments, treatment or emergency extractions of crew.
The ship will also refuel and stock up on provisions required for her home journey.
Princess Cruises declined to comment when contacted by Travel Weekly.
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