Eight men ‘heavily infected’ with Covid after sailing from virus-ravaged Indonesia could soon be brought into Australian hospitals
- Eight cargo sailors onboard the BBC California have tested positive to Covid-19
- The crew were allowed to dock in WA on Monday for medical assessments
- Mark McGowan said the ‘heavily infected’ seafarers may require hospitalisation
Mark McGowan has conceded the eight ‘heavily infected’ sailors berthed in Western Australia may need to be brought onshore and treated in hospital if their Covid symptoms deteriorate.
The BBC California cargo ship docked in Fremantle on Monday morning after half the crew members complained of symptoms consistent with coronavirus on July 12.
It is believed the sailors contracted the virus after docking at three ports in Indonesia, where the daily number of Covid deaths in excess of 1,000.
An Indonesian cargo ship (pictured) has docked in Fremantle Port, WA after half of its 14 crew members became unwell on about July 12
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan (pictured) has conceded the eight ‘heavily infected’ seafarers berthed in Western Australia may need to be brought onshore and treated in hospital if their Covid symptoms deteriorate
The high-risk ship left Indonesian waters on July 11 and was later given permission to dock at Fremantle by West Australian authorities, so all 14 crew members could be medically assessed.
This morning police and health workers in hazmat suits escorted the crew off the vessel and into a nearby shed to get tested.
A short time later they returned to the ship which operates under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda.
‘Every precaution is being taken to ensure the safety of Port workers and the Western Australian community,’ Premier McGowan said.
‘We cannot allow the virus in through international shipping.
‘If they can be managed onboard the ship, they will be managed onboard the ship.’
Pictured: A crew member from the cargo ship BBC California is seen whilst it docks in the port of Fremantle, 20km south of Perth on Monday
The crew members (pictured leaving the ship to be tested) of the BBC California became unwell after leaving Indonesia
But in the case of a maritime emergency and a sudden deterioration in their health, he conceded the sick sailors from the Filipinos, Bulgaria, Russia and the Ukraine would need to be taken onshore to hospitals in Western Australia.
‘I would have liked this ship to return immediately to Indonesia but this wasn’t possible considering the number of ill crew members on board,’ Mr McGowan said.
‘If all the crew get sick and can’t operate the ship, can’t function out on the high seas… who knows what could happen.’
The International Transport Worker’s Federation have heaped praise on the BBC California’s captain for ‘doing the right thing’ and requesting medical assistance from the Western Australian government.
‘He has put the health and wellbeing of his crew first and foremost,’ a spokesperson told the West Australian.
The union also commended the WA Government for ‘its handling of this matter.’
WA Premier Mark McGowan said on Sunday that a specialist medical team will board the ship to treat unwell crew members
Pictured: A crew member from the cargo ship BBC California is seen returning to the ship after being tested in the port of Fremantle, WA
‘The ITF is concerned however, that crews working on ships may be treated differently depending on how many potential infections are on board at any given time,’ the spokesperson said.
‘The ITF supports the principle that all seafarers have a right to medical assistance where ever and whenever it is needed. It is enshrined it the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and Australia is a signatory to the MLC.’
Since the Covid pandemic reached Australian shores in early 2020, Western Australia has successfully dealt with 10 similar Covid outbreaks on seafaring vessels.
The remaining six crew members, who have not tested positive, remain in separate cabins and are currently isolating.