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COVID tanker crew bound for Australia

A British-flagged tanker ship with COVID-positive crew is making its way towards Australia and has been given permission to anchor off Brisbane.

The Inge Kosan is scheduled to arrive about 10am on Tuesday, an official from Brisbane’s Vessel Traffic Services, which is responsible for maritime safety, told AAP on Sunday.

Online vessel tracking shows the ship heading towards the Queensland capital, having departed Port Vila.

“There is a booking for the vessel to come into an outer anchorage,” he said.

It is understood arrangements were being made for the tanker to be boarded by Australian health and other officials, a maritime official said.

It is expected that they will all be wearing full protective safety gear.

Workers boarded the Inge Kosan at Sydney’s Port Botany on March 31 and April 1.

There was a health scare at that time, but the dock workers were wearing protective gear and did not contract the virus.

The tanker carrying liquefied petroleum gas has come from PNG, where the coronavirus pandemic is escalating.

It travelled from Port Botany to deliver fuel to the sprawling Pacific nation of Vanuatu.

Blood samples were sent to Sydney and 11 of the 12 crew – and another crew member whose body washed up on a Vanuatu beach – all tested positive to coronavirus.

There have been calls in Vanuatu for a thorough investigation into why the body of the middle-aged Filipino national crew member was in the sea as well as into how he died.

“There is no question that the circumstances are highly suspicious,” a journalist based in Vanuatu, Canadian Dan McGarry, told AAP.

The ship had been scheduled to deliver fuel to the Solomon Islands, but it was reportedly refused entry.

When asked about the vessel, Australia’s Department of Home Affairs said only that the Australian Border Force has responsibility for customs and immigration clearance and works closely with local state and territory health officials.

“Quarantine arrangements, and exemptions from them, are a matter for each state and territory,” a spokesman said.

A spokesman for the shipping company BW Epic Kosan said last week that members of the crew were “asymptomatic” and the company was continuing to monitor their status.

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