PM looking at legal advice over Ruby Princess cruise ship coronavirus cluster

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is seeking legal advice after the Ruby Princess cruise ship was linked to a cluster of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand.

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The Ruby Princess, which had toured New Zealand first, allowed hundreds to disembark in Sydney two-and-a-half weeks ago, even though some had symptoms of the deadly virus. Source: 1 NEWS

So far, there have been 16 cases linked to the ship here, including passengers and close contacts of those aboard.

Ms Ardern talked about the cluster at the daily Covid-19 briefing in Wellington today.

“I’m familiar with some of their activity in Wellington and some of their activity in Hawke's Bay and of course you will remember the obligations on a cruise ship such as this is to ensure anyone who is unwell does not disembark.

“Assurance was directly sought (by Hawke’s Bay DHB) from the captain directly before individuals disembarked.

"What I will add on this given that we have cases in the Hawke’s Bay I have asked Minister Parker to seek legal advice from Crown Law as to whether or not the Ruby Princess while in New Zealand fulfilled all of its obligations under our laws.

"Because of course we are now suffering consequences of cases here in New Zealand because of a result of that cruise ship,” she said.

Full video: Government's April 7 coronavirus update

She went on to clarify exactly what steps the Government is taking over the matter and why.

"We now have Covid-19 transmission now which links directly back to that ship, not from passengers but from people, who had contact from passengers that raises significant questions so I’ve have sought legal advice around that.

“There would have been repercussions if people had tested positive on the ship.”

According to Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the 16 strong cluster from the Ruby Princess is broken down as follows:

- six people who were passengers on the ship and returned to New Zealand and are not in Hawke's Bay.

- four people were tour guides, an interpreter and a bus driver.

- six people were close contacts of those four people who were in contact with the ship, three of those six cases are residents of the Gladys Mary Dementia Rest Home in Napier.

Criminal investigation to be launched into operators Carnival Australia over Ruby Princess Covid-19 scandal

The Ruby Princess is also the subject of a homicide investigation in Australia with 11 deaths from Covid-19 related to it.