Twenty-four positive COVID-19 cases have been detected in workers aboard a livestock ship docked off the coast of Western Australia.
Two of the three positive cases reported by WA Health yesterday also came from docked ships, causing a potential logistical nightmare for health officials and crews onboard the infected vessels, with the test results of a further 19 crew on board to be known tomorrow morning.
Yesterday’s cases were associated with the Key Integrity (pictured) and AL Messilah ships.
WA Health said the Key Integrity case remained on the vessel, while the AL Messilah (pictured, below) case has been transferred to a state-run quarantine hotel.
The third case is also an international worker in a state-run quarantine hotel.
Yesterday WA’s case total stood at 714, but that looks set to blow out when the 24 additional positive cases are added to official figures tomorrow – and with the results of the 19 pending tests also to be known tomorrow.
WA Health said the Key Integrity vessel was set to sail from Geraldton Port yestesrday bound for Fremantle Port.
“This will allow the Department of Health to manage the vessel in conjunction with the management of the AL Messilah. The vessel will arrive in Fremantle Monday morning,” it said.
“The AL Messilah will for now, remain at its berth in Fremantle. The loading of the vessel remains paused – no livestock is onboard.”
It said management plans for both vessels would be determined with the shipping owners, shipping agents, port authorities and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
“The Department of Health continues to interview personnel who boarded the AL Messilah as per operational requirements for a livestock vessel – prior to the positive case being confirmed.”
“Ongoing contact tracing also continues related to the charter bus transfer and treatment at Fiona Stanley Hospital.”
It said no port in WA was allowing shore leave for any international maritime crew due to the pandemic.
“This means that no crew on these vessels can disembark – expect for medical treatment – whereby appropriate safety procedures are put in place. This is an extra layer of border security in place to protect the Western Australian community,” WA Health said.