West Australian police and Australian Border Force officers are on alert to ensure passengers do not disembark after the cruise ship Magnifica docked at Fremantle Port.

Premier Mark McGowan says no one will be allowed ashore as the vessel refuels following its arrival about at 5.30am on Tuesday, amid fears at least 250 of more than 1700 passengers are suffering upper respiratory illness.

But ship operator MSC denies any crew or passengers on the ship, which departed Italy in January and is on its way to Dubai, have respiratory or flu-like illnesses.

“There is no evidence to suggest anyone onboard may be infected with COVID-19,” the company said.

Mr McGowan has confirmed both police and border guards will monitor the Magnifica to make sure no one tries to disembark.

The government claims the vessel has given inconsistent reports about the health of its passengers.


The slow-moving ship docked at Fremantle Port after cruising southwest from waters off Rottnest Island overnight.

Meanwhile, WA will clamp down on all interstate road, rail and port traffic and order all interstate arrivals to isolate for 14 days from 1.30pm on Tuesday.

On Monday, Health Minister Roger Cook said the state had 20 new coronavirus cases, bringing WA’s total to 140. Two people are in hospital in a critical condition.

Mr McGowan said parents can keep their children home from school but they must not roam shops and beaches.

Schools will remain open until the end of term on April 9, with the state to provide tools to allow students to continue learning.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said it was “too early to call” any changes to ATAR exams, but plans were in place to ensure Year 12 students are not disadvantaged.