Four cruise ships off the coast of Queensland have been ordered to leave by Wednesday to limit the spread of the lethal coronavirus across the state.
There had been nine cruise liners of the state’s coast, but five have already left.
The remaining four, which are being refuelled, have been told to leave by one minute before midnight on Wednesday.
“If you do see a cruise ship at a port today or tomorrow, they are just refuelling and then they will be on their way,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
Queensland Ports Minister Mark Bailey said none of the five foreign-flagged ships was carrying any passengers.
The total number of coronavirus diagnoses in Queensland has reached 934 with an additional 13 cases overnight.
Of the current cases, 42 people had been hospitalised and 11 are in intensive care on ventilation.
Health Minister Steven Miles said four of Queensland’s five fatalities from the coronavirus were people who had been on cruise ships. Among them were passengers of the ill-fated Ruby Princess, from which 12 people have since died.
The NSW Police homicide squad is investigating the cruise ship, which has become the largest single source of Australian Covid-19 infections, accounting for about 10 per cent of the total.
The Ruby Princess eventually docked in Wollongong on Monday, with no passengers but more than 200 sick crew members on board.
Queensland’s order follows similar instructions to cruise ships off NSW and Western Australia.
On March 27, Australian Border Force ordered all cruise ships to leave Australian territory without docking, unless they had permission, their safety was at risk or their voyage had started in Australia.
Former cruise ship passengers account for 119 cases of the virus in Queensland. A further six people have caught the coronavirus from the passengers.
“We need to stop these cruise ships coming into Queensland and bringing the virus with them,” Mr Miles said.
He urged people in the state to think about how they would spend the Easter Holiday at home amid travel and social distancing restrictions.
It was announced on Monday that more people will be tested for coronavirus in Brisbane, Cairns and the Gold Coast after a handful of people mysteriously contracted the disease.
Police also are continuing to crack down on those breaching public health directions, issuing 174 fines for the offence. Thousands more who have been stopped by police while trying to cross the state’s border have been ordered into quarantine.
Authorities have directed 2460 people intercepted at state road borders to go into quarantine, along with another 2386 people who arrived on domestic flights. A further 34 domestic flight passengers have been refused entry to Queensland under its strict coronavirus border legislation.