Coronavirus test results for the rest of the crew of a bulk carrier anchored off Port Hedland in Western Australia are due later on Monday after nine members tested positive to COVID-19.
The ship, with 20 Filipino crew on board the Patricia Oldendorff, anchored off Port Hedland in WA’s North West on September 16 where two crew members tested positive and were taken to a local hotel for quarantine, along with 10 other crew members.
Seven new cases had to remain on board as they are part of a skeleton crew of nine to keep it operational.
“Test results for the remaining crew have not yet come in,” WA Health said on Sunday, adding the outcomes would become known overnight and reported on Monday, which is a public holiday in the state.
On Saturday, WA Health Minister Roger Cook said their symptoms were minor or non-existent and would be monitored.
The evacuated crew members are in hotel quarantine in Port Hedland.
Mr Cook said “every safety measure is being put in place” so the local community should not be concerned.
“These crew do not currently need medical treatment but should it be required, every precaution is in place to protect healthcare workers and members of the public,” he said.
Private security guards are being used in hotel quarantine in Port Hedland, as in Perth, which prompted questions in light of the failures of private security in Victoria.
Mr Cook told reporters there was a “world of difference” between WA and Victoria.
“All our security guards are trained in infection control otherwise they cannot be on site,” he said.
“We have our own people on the sites making sure that they can supervise the security guards.”
It is expected the two skeleton crew who have tested negative for the virus may well contract it in due course or have already had it, so serology tests are being done.
Arrangements are being made for a replacement skeleton crew to be available to allow for a deep clean of the ship.
Protocols to manage outbreaks working
The Commissioner for Port Hedland, Fred Riebeling, told the ABC the incident shows protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are working.
“The first thing is, how terrible it is for those individuals. The second thing that hit me quite rapidly was that our system of border protection has worked,” Mr Riebeling said.
“They were identified before they were due to disembark, which is a positive, probably for the iron ore industry and how it checks people.”
A rapid response team is being led by experienced doctor Tudor Codreanu, who also managed COVID-19 outbreaks on board the Artania cruise liner and Al-Kuwait livestock ship earlier this year.
The ship left the Philippines on September 5 with a fresh crew, indicating the virus came from that country, Mr Cook said.
The seven new cases have not been attributed to WA’s Saturday case-count but will be included in Sunday’s numbers.
One case was recorded in WA on Saturday – an Australian traveller in hotel quarantine.
WA has so far recorded 676 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and nine deaths.
It currently has 16 active cases.