News Coronavirus Hundreds of Australians aboard cruise ship face quarantine on WA island

Hundreds of Australians aboard cruise ship face quarantine on WA island

Rottnest Island has been cleared of tourists and workers so it can be used for COVID-19 quarantine. Photo: Getty
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Nearly 1000 Australians aboard a cruise ship that is due to dock in Fremantle will be taken straight to Rottnest Island for two weeks quarantine.

The remaining passengers and crew – believed to be mostly New Zealanders and Britons – will be quarantined on board the Vasco de Gama when it docks on Friday.

“All Australians, including the West Australians, will be immediately transferred to Rottnest Island for 14 days of self-isolation,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said on Wednesday.

“In the last two days we have cleared the island of visitors and made arrangements for accommodation, catering and security.

“We are exercising the Rottnest option now.”

There are more than 800 Australians among the passengers and crew on board the Vasco de Gama, and nearly 700 people of other nationalities.

No one on the ship is reported to be ill.

Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth, is a tourist hotspot best known for its native quokkas.

cruise ships coronavirus
The Vasco de Gama off Kangaroo Island in January. It is due to dock in WA on Friday. Photo: Getty

It came as Mr McGowan said on Friday another cruise ship anchored off Perth was requesting urgent medical assistance.

The West Australian reported that state Health Department officials had boarded the Artania after 25 passengers reported respiratory illnesses.

There are 800 passengers and 500 crew onboard. Mr McGowan told the newspaper a passenger no longer onboard later tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the MSC Magnifica, which left Fremantle on Tuesday for Dubai has turned around to head back after being told it could not dock in the Persian Gulf state.

The WA government has ordered it to weigh anchor off the coast.

Western Australia reported 30 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing its tally to 205.

Other developments on Wednesday:

In other states

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has begged people to stay home as that state’s coronavirus tally hit 466.

Stage two of national shutdowns were declared on Tuesday night by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. But Mr Andrews signalled Victoria was prepared to go it alone with even tougher measures to fight the spread of the deadly virus.

“Lives are absolutely what this is about,” he said.

“People won’t just be queuing for Centrelink payments, they will be queuing for heart and lung machines and ventilators and intensive care beds. You cannot queue for intensive care.”

Mr Andrews said the list of restrictions announced on Tuesday night was “stage two” of Victoria’s coronavirus response, but warned “there will be a stage three”.

“The exact nature of those measures and the timing it occurs, I will stand here and very clearly and directly explain to Victorians what they need to do at that stage,” Mr Andrews said.

On Wednesday, he outlined the “stage two” restrictions, and what they meant.

“No parties, no outings, no gatherings. There’s just no, no excuse,” he said.

“If you can stay at home, you must stay at home. It is very, very simple.

“You should not be having friends over for a dinner party; you should not be going out shopping unless you need to.

“Kids on school holidays cannot be having friends over.”

NSW also reported a spike in coronavirus cases on Wednesday, including its first confirmed infections in young children.

Chief health officer Kerry Chant said the number of cases in NSW had increased to 1029 – including a seven-year-old child and a two-month-old baby.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, NSW Police announced fines for individuals and corporations found to be breaching new social distancing guidelines.

Corporations will be fined $5000 and individuals $1000 on the spot. There will also be extra police on NSW streets to prevent social gatherings.