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Coronavirus updates: Australian police seize cruise ship black box

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Edited by Saira Asher

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  1. Cruise ship’s black box ‘seized for investigation’

    Ruby Princess docked at Port Kembla in April

    Copyright: EPA

    Image caption: The ship is currently docked at Port Kembla, south of Sydney

    As we’ve mentioned there’s been a dramatic development in the story of the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

    It has been linked to 15 deaths since it docked in Sydney on 19
    March. With more than 600 confirmed cases, it is Australia’s largest single source of infections.

    Police have begun a criminal investigation into how 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark. This morning, they confirmed the ship’s black box had been seized.

    “Ships have a black
    box very similar to that of international planes and that and other evidence
    has been seized for further investigation,” said New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller.

    The investigation will look into “discrepancies” in information provided by ship’s operator, Carnival Australia. There are questions, too, over how much blame should fall on state and federal authorities.

    More than 1,000 crew members remain aboard – 200 have flu-like symptoms, and 18 have tested positive for the virus.

    Police officers in full protective gear board the Ruby Princess

    Copyright: NSW POLICE

    Image caption: Police officers boarded the ship in full protective gear on Wednesday night
  2. First virus case among Brazil’s indigenous Yanomami

    Yanomami people

    Copyright: Reuters

    Brazil has confirmed the first case of the virus among the indigenous Yanomami. The ethnic group living in remote parts of the rainforest are known for already being vulnerable to foreign diseases.

    “We have to be triply cautious with (indigenous) communities, especially the ones that have very little contact with the outside world,” Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said.

    The patient is a 15-year-old boy and he’s being treated in the intensive care unit at a hospital, officials said.

    The country has now confirmed at least seven coronavirus cases among the indigenous population, according to local media. Brazil is home to an estimated 800,000 indigenous people from more than 300 ethnic groups. The first virus case was among the Kokama a week ago.

    Overall, Brazil has more than 14,000 confirmed cases and almost 700 deaths.

  3. Two deaths in China’s Hubei

    Two deaths from China’s Hubei province, where the virus epicentre of Wuhan is located, were reported on Wednesday, said the country’s National Health Commission.

    It comes a day after Wuhan lifted a lockdown that has been in place for almost three months.

    63 new confirmed cases – 61 of which were imported – and 56 asymptomatic cases were also reported.

    There are now 81,865 confirmed cases across China.

    A person wearing a face mask arrives at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan

    Copyright: Getty Images

  4. Infections spike in Singapore

    Singapore has long been somewhat of “poster boy” for keeping the virus in check.

    Numbers were low and so were the daily increases. On Wednesday though, the city state registered its highest daily increase since the outbreak began.

    There were 142 new positive tests – many in foreign worker dormitories – bringing the total to more than 1,600. Six people have died so far.

    The latest numbers confirm an upward trend, and the government’s response has got tougher.

    In a move labelled a “circuit breaker”, all non-essential businesses were closed from Tuesday. Then just yesterday, all social get-togethers were banned.

    I’ve been working from home for weeks now. Just down from my balcony is a playground, and it’s always busy with kids every morning.

    Today, it’s cordoned off and the little park is quiet – except for the chirping of birds in the trees.

    Empty playground

    Copyright: BBC

  5. What’s the latest in Australia?

    Police investigators in front of the Ruby Princess in Wollongong

    Copyright: NSW POLICE

    Image caption: Police investigators boarded the Ruby Princess last night

    Good
    morning from Sydney, where the focus once again is on the Ruby Princess cruise ship – the source of one-tenth of the 6,000 cases in Australia.

    • Police boarded the vessel, currently south of Sydney, last night and seized its black box as part of an investigation into whether the ship’s operator failed its duty of care to passengers. About 2,700 people were allowed to freely disembark last month. Since then, 15 passengers have died
    • Lawmakers yesterday
      passed a mammoth A$130b (£65bn; $80bn) wage subsidy package – the biggest
      financial lifeline in the nation’s history
    • Ahead of a
      four-day Easter long weekend, officials are urging people to stick to the
      rules, stay home and avoid travelling to holiday spots
    • But a government
      minister in New South Wales, the worst-hit state, has been found doing just
      that after retreating from his Sydney home to a holiday house on the
      coast
  6. Hello and welcome

    Welcome back to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. We’ll be bringing you all the latest developments throughout today, but first, here are some of the headlines:

    • US President Donald Trump has not backed down on his criticism of the WHO. In a press briefing, he said they had to “get [their] priorities right”. He had previously accused the organisation of being “China-centric” and said they “really blew” their pandemic response
    • But the head of the WHO dismissed his comments, saying “we are close to every nation, we are colour blind”. He also called for an end to the “politicisation” of Covid-19
    • Over in Australia, police are investigating why a cruise ship allowed sick passengers to disembark in downtown Sydney. Officers entered the Ruby Princess and seized the cruise’s black box
    • In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care but is “improving”

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