Three cruise ships off the coast of Western Australia have been told that under no circumstances will they be allowed to dock.
The Artania is carrying 800 passengers, mostly Germans, seven of whom have the coronavirus.
“The Artania cruise ship must continue on its journey to South Africa urgently. This ship needs to leave immediately,” Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan told reporters Thursday. He said if the seven passengers needed urgent medical assistance they should be sent to an Australian Defence Force base, then flown home to Germany. “We are working with the Australian government to do this immediately,” he said.
The MSC Magnifica has refueled in Fremantle and remains in waters off the coast of Western Australia. It had been planning to end its voyage in Dubai, and was at sea when its operator, MSC Cruises, temporarily halted its fleet.
MSC Cruises told CNN on March 23 that no passengers were ill. “Nobody on board -- passengers or crew -- has fever, signs of respiratory insufficiency or gastroenteric diseases,” it said in a statement.
The Vasco da Gama is carrying around 800 Australians, including 200 Western Australians, 109 New Zealanders, and 33 UK citizens and other foreigners, according to the WA government. It had been due to dock in Fremantle on Friday but has been requested to postpone its arrival until Monday to allow for the preparation of temporary accommodation on Rottnest Island.
The island, a protected nature reserve, will be used to house Western Australians onboard the ship for their 14-day quarantine period. Others onboard must remain on the ship until provisions are made to send them straight home.
No repeat: The Western Australian government is trying to avoid the scenario that played out in Sydney on March 19, when more than 2,600 passengers were allowed to leave the Ruby Princess cruise ship. Since then, 121 passengers have been confirmed to have Covid-19, according to the New South Wales Health Department.
“We are not going to have a Sydney Harbor fiasco on our watch,” McGowan said.