News Coronavirus Cruise passengers kept on board in Hobart over coronavirus fears

Cruise passengers kept on board in Hobart over coronavirus fears

The MSC Magnifica arrived in Hobart today — but passengers have not been allowed to disembark. Photo: ABC News/Fiona Blackwood
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About 400 cruise ship passengers and staff have been barred from disembarking in Hobart, due to coronavirus concerns.

The ship, MSC Magnifica, which arrived from New Zealand this morning has docked in Hobart, with the cruise company MSC cruises taking the decision “to ensure [passengers’] health and safety, in response to potential risk of COVID-19”, according to a TasPorts spokesperson.

The Mac 2 cruise terminal will be closed today as part of normal procedures.

At a press conference today, Tasmanian Premier Gutwein said the decision followed national advice on border control.

“We obviously act on the advice of the Australian Border Agency in terms of what occurs nationally, but controls that are set by the Australian Government are the ones we take into account and also the advice of our own health experts and the Director of Public Health.”

“My understanding is there’s no outbreak of coronavirus on the ship itself and this is a precautionary measure that the ship [company] has taken.”

Meanwhile, the government has confirmed that Tasmania’s fifth case of coronavirus is a man in his 60s who recently travelled in North America and Canada.

He is in a stable condition and in isolation at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Health Minister Sarah Courtney said the man became unwell after he arrived in Tasmania.

“Because of the period of time between him arriving in Tasmania and the onset of his symptoms, he was not infectious on his international or domestic flights,” she said.

Ms Courtney also said the health system remained ready should the state see more cases.

“There’s a range of scenarios that can be worked through at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

“I’ve been advised that we do have capacity for more cases, we do have capacity around the state for more cases.”

The Health Minister indicated the Government would not be fast-tracking the opening of the new K-block if an outbreak occurred.

“We’re working very closely, we want to see K-block open, however, it would be completely inappropriate for me or the Government to open a facility against expert advice,” she said.

A total of 224 people in the state have been tested as of midday yesterday for the virus.

So far, all five cases of the virus in the state have been related to overseas travel, rather than transmission within the community.