Eight crew members aboard a cargo ship docked in Fremantle have tested positive to COVID-19, creating a fresh logistical challenge for West Australian authorities.
WA’s health department has confirmed the results after the symptomatic crew members briefly disembarked the BBC California vessel for testing earlier on Monday.
They have since been isolated in separate cabins aboard the ship.
“The remaining six crew on-board the vessel, who are not symptomatic, will now be tested for COVID-19 this afternoon,” WA Health said in a statement.
“They will also receive serology tests to see if they have previously had the virus.
“Every precaution is being taken to ensure the safety of port workers and the WA community.”Premier Mark McGowan had earlier flagged the strong likelihood of positive cases among the crew.
He said anyone who needed medical treatment would be hospitalized, but doing so would increase the risk of community infection. “If the crew can remain on board the ship and they can quarantine there, it reduces the risk to all of us,” he told reporters.
The BBC California left Egypt on 8 June and has since visited three ports in Indonesia. Several crew members became unwell last week, prompting the ship’s captain to seek assistance.
The ship docked at Fremantle Port on Monday, allowing crew members to disembark in small groups so they could be tested inside a shed. They were met by health workers and police, clad in personal protective equipment, and returned to the ship a short time later. WA Health said the same process would be followed for the remaining crew members and further medical assistance would be provided if required.