Last week, Western Australia’s Department of Health confirmed a positive case on the Al Messilah, a Kuwait-flagged livestock carrier.
On 19 October, another 24 of the remaining 51 crewmembers onboard the 14,201 dwt Al Messilah tested positive for coronavirus.
“These 24 positive cases remain on board the vessel and the initial positive case who came off the Al Messilah on Friday, is in State-run hotel quarantine,” the Department of Health said. Loading of the 1980-built vessel, which remains docked in Fremantle, has been paused and no livestock is currently aboard.
“The Department of Health will work closely with the shipping owner, shipping agent, Fremantle Port and Australian Maritime Safety Authority on the management of the vessel.”
Another COVID-19 case has been found onboard a Liberia-flagged Panamax bulker, identified as Key Integrity, at Geraldton Port.
The ship is owned by Japanese shipping company NYK Line, data provided by VesselsValue’s shows.
The crew member remains aboard the vessel in their cabin, and no-one will be disembarked unless they require medical attention. No port in Western Australia is allowing shore-leave for any international maritime crew.
This means that no-one can disembark a vessel – expect for medical treatment – whereby appropriate safety procedures are put in place. Meanwhile, 83,400 dwt Key Integrity sailed from Geraldton Port to Fremantle, to enable local health authorities to jointly manage the two coronavirus-hit ships.
Nineteen Key Integrity crew will be tested today, the Department of Health added.
Mark McGowan, WA Premier, told local media that more coronavirus cases might be expected in the coming days, describing vessels carrying coronavirus cases and arriving in Western Australia as “the biggest risk” for the region.
He also called for a coordinated international approach to this issue, as well as for the support from the federal government.
In the past three weeks, a total of four coronavirus-hit ships arrived in Western Australia waters, the most recent being MOL’s Capesize bulker Vega Dream and Oldendorff Carriers’ Patricia Oldendorff.
Having received clearance from local authorities, both ships recently left WA waters after their crew recovered.