This week has seen 25 crew test positive for COVID-19 onboard the livestock carrier Al Messilah and two seafarers from the bulker Key Integrity, both of which called at the Port of Fremantle. These followed the recent outbreaks on the bulkers Patricia Oldendorff and Vega Dream calling at Port Hedland.
Concerns have been heightened after it was revealed two Australian vets onboard the Al Messilah had left the vessel at the weekend returning home to quarantine in Sydney and Busselton before the outbreak of the livestock carrier was confirmed.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said that going forward any Australian arriving by sea into the state would have to serve a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
ABC News reported McGowan as saying that as crew changes become more frequent around the world, after months of staff being stuck on board, the risk of COVID-19 had grown. "The risk is far greater than it was before, so we have changed that direction now.”
The Australian state is now exploring whether it can simply turn away vessels where there are confirmed COVID-19 cases onboard.
McGowan told parliament on Tuesday afternoon: "We are still looking at and getting as much information as we can on whether or not we can just turn ships around that turn up with infected seafarers, so that we send a message to the shipping companies and to the importers and exporters.
"The problem with that of course, is if we launch that policy, is that they then may not tell us … that they have infected seafarers on board."
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