A crew member from a ship docked at Western Australia’s Fremantle Port has been placed in hotel quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus.
Premier Mark McGowan wants the vessel to set sail before a flight carrying repatriated Australians arrives from India at Perth Airport on Wednesday.
He says WA can’t take more COVID-19 infected crew members from visiting ships as they risk overwhelming WA’s quarantine facilities.
The man in his 20s was placed into Perth hotel quarantine on Monday after he was tested for the virus at the Fiona Stanley Hospital.
“He came off Sunday because he was unwell with symptoms that apparently weren’t COVID-related,” Mr McGowan told reporters on Tuesday.
He said the man then returned to the Kwinana Bulk Terminal where the cargo ship, the Allegra, was docked and waiting to sail to Malaysia.
“He was then found to be positive and he has been taken off the ship and put into quarantine,” Mr McGowan said.
None of the other 22 crew on board are ill and the vessel has been fully loaded with its cargo of urea, a form of fertiliser.
Mr McGowan wants the Allegra out of WA waters before a flight from India carrying repatriated Australians arrives at Perth Airport on Wednesday.
“If we take the crew members of every ship where there is a medical condition or a COVID case we could potentially overwhelm our hotel quarantine system,” he said.
A meeting has been scheduled with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to discuss the Allegra’s departure.
“If the ship has to stay it may have to stay for a considerable period,” he said.
“The state’s very strong view is that the ship should sail as soon as possible.
“It reduces the pressure on WA if the ship sails immediately.”
In a statement, the WA Health Department said the man wore appropriate PPE when he came off the ship and health staff followed infection control processes for maritime crew.
Mr McGowan said he was confident health workers had followed the correct procedures and there was little risk of the virus being spread from the crew member.