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NSW cops raid Ruby Princess, question crew

NSW Police Rescue officers look on as the Ruby Princess, with crew only onboard, docks at Port Kembla, Wollongong, Friday, January 1, 2016. A criminal investigation will be launched into how cruise line operator Carnival Australia was allowed to disembark Ruby Princess passengers in Sydney, resulting in several deaths and COVID-19 outbreaks throughout the country. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING

NSW Police Rescue officers look on as the Ruby Princess, with crew only onboard, docks at Port Kembla, Wollongong, Friday, January 1, 2016. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) 

Detectives have boarded the Ruby Princess cruise ship to seize evidence and question crew members about the docking and disembarkation of passengers in Sydney three weeks ago.

The vessel is linked to hundreds of COVID-19 cases and more than a dozen deaths across Australia.

NSW detectives wearing personal protective equipment boarded the vessel at Port Kembla on Wednesday night to gather evidence about how hundreds of passengers aboard were allowed to leave the ship on March 19.

"Strike Force Bast investigators are conducting inquiries on-board the Ruby Princess this evening," NSW Police said in a statement.

"The operation is being conducted under the strictest health and workplace safety guidelines."

In coming days police will interview other high-priority witnesses about the scandal, while the vessel is expected to remain at Port Kembla for 10 days with 1040 crew members undergoing medical assessments.

About 200 crew have shown symptoms of coronavirus, while 18 crew have so far tested positive.

Meanwhile, new COVID-19 infections continue to stabilise with NSW recording 48 new cases on Wednesday, taking the state's total to 2734.

There are 36 people in intensive care and the death toll remains at 21.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian welcomed the ongoing stabilisation and decline of new cases but warned community transmission was still increasing.

She said that while social distancing would be necessary until a coronavirus vaccine or cure is found, restrictions are being reviewed on a month-by-month basis.

She reminded people to adhere to restrictions, which are having a positive effect, as authorities keep a watchful eye on increasing community transmission.

NSW Health says there are 36 travellers currently in hotel quarantine who have tested positive to COVID-19, and 121 quarantined travellers showing coronavirus symptoms.

The first group of 288 Australians quarantined at the Swissotel in Sydney's CBD were released on Wednesday morning, with police planning for further departures when some 3000 Australian residents are expected to leave hotel isolation over the next week.

Meanwhile, New South Wales tenants may soon have some rental relief, with the Berejiklian government reportedly considering reducing overheads for landlords.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet told the Sydney Morning Herald the state government is finalising a plan to offer some waiving or deferral of land tax.

The offer would be conditional on the landlords passing the savings to tenants.

Mr.Perrottet urged tenants not to go on a 'rent strike' saying that would ultimately help neither party.

© AAP 2020