The 2,700 passengers who disembarked the cruise ship Ruby Princess in March may receive justice for how an outbreak of Covid-19 onboard was handled by operators.
Australian law firm Shine Lawyers (ASX: SHJ) has commenced an investigation into whether there are legal avenues to hold the Ruby Princess' US-based owner and operator Carnival Corporation accountable for failing to protect the health and safety of passengers.
The law firm will also explore the role state and Commonwealth authorities had to play in the situation, specifically whether the docking and disembarkation of the ship was done in accordance with the law.
To date, 18 passengers from the Ruby Princess have died from Covid-19 and hundreds more passengers have been diagnosed with the virus.
The criticism of the ship's operators and government officials comes down to the fact that passengers on board the Ruby Princess were simply let off the boat and out into Australia without any quarantine or testing.
This is despite the fact that the ship had previously logged 158 cases of illness on a pervious voyage.
Shine Lawyers says all 2,700 passengers on board were not informed of the fact there were people previously infected with the coronavirus on the cruise ship.
"We have received many enquiries from passengers on board the Ruby Princess, and will continue to take enquiries from all passengers, irrespective of whether they contracted COVID-19 or not," says Shine Lawyers.
"If you are one of the 2,700 passengers, we encourage you to register for the Ruby Princess coronavirus legal action investigation so that we may determine the legal avenues that exist to ensure your rights are protected."
Cruise ships are in a sticky situation for our island home as many seek refuge in ports around the country.
Western Australia has effectively closed its borders to not just international arrivals, but those interstate too, because the majority of its confirmed Covid-19 cases are those from cruise ships.
Right now there are seven cruise ships ailing off the coast of WA, but the State's Premier Mark McGowan says he hopes they leave sometime soon.
One of the ships, the Ovation of the Seas, has around 84 cases of Covid-19 confirmed on board.
Cruise ships have been major breeding grounds for Covid-19 since the outbreak began to spread out of China at the beginning of the year.
The Diamond Princess was the first to receive international attention after it experienced a major outbreak on board while quarantined off the coast of Yokohama for around a month.
Over 700 people on the Diamond Princess were infected and 12 people died.
As of 13 April 2020 more than 20 cruise ships have had a confirmed positive case of Covid-19 on board, while nearly 5,000 passengers remain at sea on five cruise ships.
Updated at 10:25am AEST on 14 April 2020.
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