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The Ruby Princess cruise ship docks at Port Kembla, Australia, on Monday. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

The coronavirus-hit Ruby Princess berthed in New South Wales, Australia, on Monday — hours after police in the southeast Australian state launched a criminal investigation into the cruise ship.

Why it matters: Per the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 600 people who were aboard the Ruby Princess and killed 11 others — accounting for 30% of all deaths from the virus in Australia.

  • The NSW Homicide Squad is investigating the circumstances surrounding a March 19 disembarkation of some 2,700 passengers in Sydney after a brief cruise to New Zealand, per a police statement.

Details: Up to 200 of the 1,040-member crew aboard the ship are showing symptoms for the virus, police said. Sick crew members were being treated on board or transported to hospital.

  • NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said in the statement his initial assessment "left questions about the transparency in conceptualizing the health conditions of passengers and crew in relation to COVID-19" and the only way he could determine whether any state or national biosecurity laws were broken was to launch a criminal probe.
  • "There appears to have been an exceptional amount of effort put in by [port officials] to determine the true nature of the conditions on board — and even delayed the vessels arrival until they were provided additional information," Fuller said.

The big picture: Australia has reported more than 35 deaths from the coronavirus and over 5,600 cases as of early Monday, according to Johns Hopkins.

  • The Australian government issued on March 16 a ban on cruise ships that prevents them from docking except for emergencies.
  • State health authorities had classed the Ruby Princess as low risk based on the information available at the time of the Sydney docking, per Reuters. The Australian Border Force then "issued a notice allowing the passengers to travel home freely" but requiring them to isolate for 14 days, the news agency notes.

What they're saying: Carnival Australia, which operates the Ruby Princess, said in a statement to news outlets the firm is "willingly participating in the investigation."

  • "Carnival Australia will vigorously respond to any allegations of which there must now be full disclosure and the basis for them," the statement added.

What's next: The ship is expected to remain at port for up to 10 days, "but the crew will not disembark unless in an emergency and approved by the NSW Police Commissioner," police said in a separate statement.

Go deeper: Carnival CEO defends coronavirus response

Go deeper

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.

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