A German cruise ship has docked in Perth with more than 70 people who are ill and are believed to have coronavirus.
State authorities are scrambling over what to do with the MV Artania, which is carrying more than 800 foreign passengers and 500 crew onboard.
The ship was given permission to berth at Fremantle Port, in Perth on Friday after requesting assistance for a medical emergency.
Nine people confirmed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 disembarked on Friday to be treated in Perth, but hundreds more remain on the ship until they can be evacuated to Germany.
State authorities are scrambling over what to do with the MV Artania, which is carrying hundreds of foreigners who could potentially be carrying coronavirus
The ship’s captain has since reported an additional 70 people have begun showing symptoms on board, the West Australian reported.
The state was forced to turn to the Federal Government for help, fearing a potential health crisis would overwhelm Perth’s hospitals with hundreds of sick foreigners.
WA has recorded 24 new cases of coronavirus, including 11 from cruise ships and a five-month-old baby, taking the state’s total to 255.
Thirteen are being treated in hospital and two in intensive care.
Premier Mark McGowan had been reluctant to allow passengers to be treated in the city’s hospitals and suggested anyone requiring medical attention be taken to a defence base.
He said under ‘no circumstances’ would they be permitted to ‘wander the streets in our state.’
The Artania and Vasco Da Gama were pictured side-by-side in the Western Australian dock as they await to carry out orders imposed by the Western Australian government to curb the spread of coronavirus
Any infected passengers with a life-threatening emergency could only go to a federal government facility such as a defence force base, the premier said, but the Artania must continue on to its next port in South Africa ‘urgently’.
‘This ship needs to leave immediately,’ he told reporters on Thursday.
‘The main thing we want is the ship gone.
Mr McGowan said the nine who had been taken to hospital for an initial assessment then would be quarantined at police academy accommodation.
‘We were unable to secure a Commonwealth facility for this purpose,’ he told reporters on Friday.
The healthy passengers and some crew will be flown to Germany on three planes over the weekend.
Two other people, who are critically ill but not with COVID-19, disembarked on Thursday.
Mr McGowan said one was evacuated by police boat while at sea, but the WA health department expressed concerns for the second person so the ship was allowed to berth in Fremantle.
There are no Australians on the vessel or on the cruise ship Magnifica, which is anchored off Fremantle but does not have any coronavirus cases. The Magnifica will leave after reprovisioning.
A passenger walks from the MV Artania to be attended to by waiting paramedics on the wharf at the Fremantle Passenger Terminal
Mr McGowan said the Vasco da Gama would dock later on Friday so New Zealand passengers could catch a flight home on Saturday.
About 200 passengers from WA will go into isolation on Rottnest Island for 14 days, while about 600 other Australians will go to either Rottnest or another hotel to quarantine for two weeks, then return home for another isolation period.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 3,291
New South Wales: 1,405
South Australia: 257
Western Australia: 255
Australian Capital Territory: 62
Northern Territory: 14
TOTAL CASES: 3,291
Mr McGowan also announced the closure of gun shops and firearm dealerships, but farmers can still access ammunition for pest control.
Intrastate travel restrictions will take effect from midnight Tuesday, with non-essential travel banned. Offenders face a $50,000 fine.
‘Do not travel around WA. Easter holiday plans cannot proceed. Stay within your region,’ Mr McGowan said.
‘We’re trying to save your life.’
WA has recorded 24 new cases, including 11 from cruise ships and a five-month-old baby, taking the state’s total to 255.
One woman was forced into quarantine after she failed to self-isolate following contact with a confirmed case, although she has not been diagnosed with the virus.
Police Commissioner Chris Dawson read a statement from the ‘devastated’ family of Ray Daniels, who was a fit and healthy 73-year-old man before he collapsed at home and died within 48 hours from coronavirus.
‘Clearly this virus does not discriminate and we never believed for one second that it would take him from us,’ the statement read.
Meanwhile, the WA Police Union wants an expansion of laws that impose a mandatory six months imprisonment on anyone who assaults a public officer.
The union wants the law extended to people who threaten frontline workers with COVID-19 by deliberately spitting, sneezing or wiping bodily fluids on them.
WA opposition leader Liza Harvey has called for a six-month deferment of all household fees and charges.